New weight room marks Maryvale progress

PHOENIX -- Right-hander Marco Estrada is not alone in enjoying the new weight room at Maryvale Baseball Park, the first sign of $1.5 million in pending improvements meant to keep the Brewers at their 15-year-old Phoenix facility.

The project added 1,700 square feet -- more than doubling the space to just shy of 3,000 square feet -- plus skylights and two garage doors that add natural light and air. Gone are the days of players escaping the cramped quarters of the weight room to do their exercises in the adjoining hallway.

"No one ever wanted to go in because you had to pretty much wait for the veterans to get their workouts over with," Estrada said. "Now there's enough room for everybody to go in."

The renovation was the first of two projects scheduled for this year. It was green lit after the Brewers and Phoenix agreed last spring to a creative 10-year lease extension. It called for two guaranteed years (2013-14) and $1.5 million in improvements, followed by eight one-year club options.

Another round of construction will begin next month. When the Brewers break camp, their Minor Leaguers will move from the Minor League complex across the parking lot into the Major League complex, opening the Minor League side for its own renovation. Crews will expand the weight room there by 1,300-1,400 square feet and add a theater-style classroom and offices.

In the end, Maryvale Baseball Park will have about 6,000 square feet of weight room space, putting it in the top third of Cactus League facilities, according to Brewers vice president and controller Joe Zidanic.

The Brewers' future wish list includes replacing the outdated scoreboard, new stadium seats and further expansion of office space.