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Brewers get look at Maryvale improvements

Overhauled site expected to be ready by Spring Training in 2019
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- It took some imagination, but Brewers manager Craig Counsell could start to see the Brewers' future when he looked past the bulldozers and backhoes at Maryvale Baseball Park on Tuesday.

Counsell, with Brewers general manager David Stearns, first baseman Eric Thames and other club officials and broadcasters donned hard hats for a walking tour of the massive renovation underway at the team's training facility in west Phoenix. The two-story building that once housed Counsell's and Stearns' offices and the rest of the Brewers' clubhouse has been entirely gutted, and the structure that ran alongside the main stadium's first-base line is gone.

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PHOENIX -- It took some imagination, but Brewers manager Craig Counsell could start to see the Brewers' future when he looked past the bulldozers and backhoes at Maryvale Baseball Park on Tuesday.

Counsell, with Brewers general manager David Stearns, first baseman Eric Thames and other club officials and broadcasters donned hard hats for a walking tour of the massive renovation underway at the team's training facility in west Phoenix. The two-story building that once housed Counsell's and Stearns' offices and the rest of the Brewers' clubhouse has been entirely gutted, and the structure that ran alongside the main stadium's first-base line is gone.

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In its place is an 18-foot-deep hole, which will soon be home to a series of hydrotherapy pools. Eventually, they will be enclosed by a new building to house the Major League and Minor League clubhouses, athletic training facilities, offices and retail space, all of which are expected to be ready for the Brewers for the start of 2019 Spring Training.

Tweet from @Brewers: We took a tour of @MaryvaleBP to document the progress on the construction project. We���ll have more photos to come, but for now, here���s @EricThames at his old locker. pic.twitter.com/9qORTwNc5I

The club is investing $56 million to $60 million in the project, with another $15 million to 16 million coming from the city of Phoenix and the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority over the coming years.

"You just realize what a big project it is when you get here," said Counsell, whose club is in the middle of a series at Chase Field against the D-backs. "It's an incredible amount of work that needs to be done."

Tweet from @Brewers: Big changes are coming to Maryvale Baseball Park in 2019! Details on the major renovation project: https://t.co/IdSntl7d1t pic.twitter.com/XGg6pOaYku

So far, much of the work has entailed demolition and infrastructure. The playing surface in the main stadium has been removed, as has a practice field behind the old clubhouse that will be rebuilt as a replica of Milwaukee's Miller Park. A staff parking lot in the middle of the complex will be replaced by batting tunnels, pitching mounds and an agility field adjacent to an open-air weight room.

Fans will pass right through the middle of that space on the way to a new stadium entrance behind home plate.

"I think we're beginning to get a picture of what the scope of this facility is going to be," Stearns said. "There are a couple of things we're aiming to accomplish here. The first is, we want a unified building, one building with player development and the Major Leagues under one roof. We want enhanced communication, enhanced interaction between our Minor League players and our Major League group. And the second thing is this is going to serve as our hub now for our medical facilities, our sports science facilities, moving forward. We're making a fairly substantial investment in those areas."

What struck Stearns and Counsell was how small the old facilities were compared to what is to come, even after an expanded weight room was added several years ago.

When the project is done, it will double the amount of square footage dedicated to baseball operations.

"To see what it's going to be in the next six months and a year, it's going to be ridiculous," Thames said. "I'm excited."

So was the manager.

"You have to dream right now a little bit, but you know that there are so many people working hard that it's going to be amazing," Counsell said. "I think the biggest thing is from an organization perspective, that we're proud of where we're going to in Spring Training, and that we have a beautiful facility. It's that we've got a first-class facility, a world-class facility."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers