CHICAGO — Theo Epstein, Cubs’ president of baseball operations, said that he felt like an interior designer in the years and months he spent seeking player input on the team’s new 30,000-square-foot clubhouse.
The result is a players’ paradise three times larger than the old space. Epstein said the opening of the facility means the Cubs will likely try to host free agents in the offseason as opposed to traveling to meet them, as they often did in the past.
Here are highlights of Tuesday’s media tour:
Locker room: The modern, circular room has a diameter of 60 feet and 6 inches — the same distance from a pitcher’s mound to home plate. There is a lounge area in the middle and an impressive alternate logo on the ceiling.
The logo, LOCKERS and the room’s perimeter lights can change colors to fit different situations, such as before a day game or the late-night return from a road trip.
Manager Joe Maddon also has a more spacious office.
Strength and conditioning: The new space is seven times larger than the old area. In addition to the standard weight-room equipment, there is a Pilates area designed to fit large athletes.
Across from the weight room is a display full of Cubs memorabilia, combining the state-of-the-art space with the franchise’s rich history.
Video room: The room full of television screens allows for both scouting and meeting space, matching the best in the league.
Dining room: The players’ dining room is equipped with an expansive nutrition center and stocked with organic food and a Gatorade bar. The kitchen is staffed to provide player-specific meals as part of an organization-wide nutrition revamp. Some players have started having food made in the dining room and taking it home.
Players’ lounge: The new area feels like a cross between an arcade and a theater, complete with a Las Vegas-inspired “Welcome to the Cubs Players’ Lounge” sign. The room features nine TVs, arcade games, air hockey, table tennis, shuffleboard and Pop-a-Shot basketball.
Training room: This room covers 3,800 square feet and includes a hyperbaric chamber, cryotherapy, a float pod and an underwater treadmill.
This space has been upgraded to the point where it allows such injured players as Kyle Schwarber to complete rehab in Chicago instead of having to go the team’s Spring Training center.
Tunnel, cage and “party room”: After walking past a series of images from Cubs past and present — including a wall of players’ childhood pictures — there is a futuristic tunnel leading to the dugout. The walk from the clubhouse to the dugout takes about one minute compared with 30 seconds in the past, but it is well worth it.
On the same ground where the clubhouse was previously located, the Cubs have new batting cages. Across from that is the vaunted “party room” (or celebration room), a small place for the Cubs to celebrate home victories. Once the overhead lights go off, strobe lights come on, smoke comes out and music takes over. The Cubs have a designated five minutes to celebrate after games.