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Seattle Storm become 2nd WNBA team to open their own practice facility

THE SEATTLE TIMES VIA AP
                                The Seattle Storm’s new performance center is seen in Seattle today.
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THE SEATTLE TIMES VIA AP

The Seattle Storm’s new performance center is seen in Seattle today.

SEATTLE >> Alisha Valavanis walked around as the new performance center for the Seattle Storm was unveiled today filled mostly with joy and a little sadness.

The joy for the CEO of the Storm — who has been with the team for nearly a decade — came from helping bring to completion the second standalone practice facility dedicated to a WNBA team following the Las Vegas Aces last year.

The twinge of sadness for Valavanis was personal. Valavanis’ father, Spero, was an architect that created some of the initial design ideas for the facility. Eventually, a team of architects created the final building, but Valavanis said there were legal pads and napkins that had drawings and ideas from her dad which led to the finished product.

Her father never saw what the final building looked like with the two practice courts, an area for high performance training, therapy pools, a massive locker room and player lounge. He died earlier this year.

“My dad was in that very beginning dream part and then he saw the whole project through with us,” Valavanis said. “Unfortunately, he passed in January and wasn’t able to see this moment. But he is every part of it.”

The $64 million facility in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood still has a few final touches to completed before the Storm begin training camp in a little over a week. But it’s a massive upgrade for the franchise after spending more than a decade using a secondary court at a NCAA Division II college in the same area of Seattle as its primary practice facility during the season. It also brings together the basketball and business sides of the team operations under one roof.

Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel said the goal was to create a home for the franchise that felt like more than just a place to practice.

“We built a home. We built a home for our players. We built a home for our staff. We built a home in this community for the Seattle Storm,” Brummel said. “I hope as you go through the building you will feel that.”

There are small examples throughout of what Brummel was saying. The primary gathering space in the building has tiered seating made from the court when Seattle won the WNBA title in 2018. There’s a sneaker wall featuring shoe designs Seattle players have worn through the years. The main entrance has all four of the championship trophies on display. A mural on one wall of the main practice floor features the Seattle skyline with the outline of the mountains in the background.

There’s even space in the player and staff parking areas to set up temporary courts for 3-on-3 hoops.

“We’re just in a good location and had good ownership that really wanted to push for it and build something that was truly us and meant something to the city of Seattle,” Seattle All-Star Jewell Loyd said.

One thing that stood out for Valavanis is the amount of natural light that was coming into the building, especially on a sunny spring day. Bringing is as much outside light as possible was something her dad talked about in his initial designs.

“I’d say from that original sketch to now, so much of it has come to life,” Valavanis said.

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