by Mark Harris
PEORIA, Ariz. — “Old” and “run-down” were words used by San Diego Padres pitcher Robbie Erlin to describe the Padres former spring-training clubhouse.
Now the Padres boast one of the premier spring-training facilities after renovations to their clubhouse in 2014.
“It’s great,” Padres pitcher Andre Rienzo said. “It’s beautiful. It’s a great facility. It’s amazing, it’s the best I’ve been at so far.
“The clubhouse looks like a big-league clubhouse, and the field is always prepared. You feel comfortable, and it’s a good place to stay.”
The clubhouse wasn’t the only part of the facility that was refurbished. So were the weight room and the practice fields.
“In the old facility there were lockers right in the middle of the clubhouse, so it was kind of weird doing meetings and stuff,” Erlin said. “So now it’s like one big open room, so it makes everything really easy, really nice.”
Those oddly-placed lockers plagued the Padres for 20 years, since they were originally installed as temporary lockers when the Padres moved their spring training to Peoria from Yuma in 1994.
Facilities can quickly become obsolete, and that’s why the Padres and the Seattle Mariners (who occupy the other side of the complex) partnered with the City of Peoria in 2012 to make upgrades.
Chris Calcaterra, the community services deputy director for Peoria, directs the parks and sports facilities for the city, including the sports complex. He discussed the improvements in the facility in a recent interview at the ballpark.
“About four years ago we started our whole renovation project for the City of Peoria and the teams, and that started with the clubhouse renovation project,” Calcaterra said. “Over the four years we’ve renovated the facility up to about $43 million worth of capital improvements. Some of those are team enhanced, some of those are city enhanced.”
Peoria provided each team with around $15 million for renovations.
The Padres building and Mariners building are similar, but not identical.
The Padres’ clubhouse was modified to capture the circular and open feel of their home clubhouse at Petco Park in San Diego.
(Video by Gabe Mercer/Cronkite News)
San Diego’s weight room, meeting room and training room were also expanded. A modern video room was installed.
Not everything was publicly financed.
“They paid for . . . things that if you flipped the clubhouse upside down and it falls out,” Calcaterra said. He refers to the so-called “FF&E” — furniture, fixtures and equipment.
So the Padres and Mariners paid for their own weights, baseball equipment, furniture and anything else that is not physically attached to the building.
The stadium of the Peoria Sports Complex received $12 million in renovations as well. In 2015, the park gained a terrace, a team store, a new bar, and a colonnade that extended seats on the third-base line. A kids zone with a pirate ship and a new scoreboard were added this year.
Calcaterra said the scoreboard is the largest at any stadium that hosts spring training, including those in Florida.
The LED scoreboard is 35 feet high and 61 feet wide. Although Peoria was indifferent on the scoreboard, the teams decided to contribute over half of the money for it.
While the contemporary amenities and a fancy scoreboard are nice, one of the main goals for the Padres was to make their new facility feel like a home for the players.
“I walked in and the locker room is way bigger than the ones I’ve been in in Florida,” Padres pitcher Tyrell Jenkins said. “It’s a lot nicer here.”