ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The 2014 Broncos are currently under construction. That's what phase one of the club's voluntary offseason conditioning program is all about.
But the cranes, bulldozers and cement mixers surrounding the team's Dove Valley headquarters take that metaphor to a new level.
The team's facility is undergoing construction this offseason as well -- a makeover that will bring new offices in the existing building as well as a brand new fieldhouse that can house the club's practices during inclement weather.
Vice President of Operations Chip Conway gave the media a tour of the construction Wednesday, cracking a smile when he noted that the process has been "immensely challenging."
"I've not displaced anyone outside of this building, other than to some additional offices down at the stadium," he noted. "Our very gracious PR department has been sitting in a coffee room for the last three or four days. Hopefully I'll get them back in their offices soon. It's a juggling act. The players' piece with the shower room was my hardest test, and thankfully Saunders (Construction, Inc.) came through on that and we were able to give players showers when they came back for OTAs. Probably my biggest date that I really want to hit is training camp. We have a lot to do before training camp. I have to get the coaches into their new offices, I have to get the video department into their new offices. So it is a big challenge for us, but we have a very nice critical path outlined for us and we're going to hit all those dates. We're right on schedule right now on our north end, so we're going to make sure it happens."
In putting together the construction plan for the new fieldhouse, the Broncos took a look at the University of Wyoming's facility as well as NFL venues built by the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and New York Giants.
In fact, the field within the indoor facility will be the same type of turf as the one on which the Broncos played in Super Bowl XLVIII.
"I think one of the things we wanted to accomplish here was to keep camp here," Conway said. "We had to get the commitment from the football side to keep camp here. Once we had that, we were able to really fight for the fieldhouse, and luckily (Owner and CEO) Mr. (Pat) Bowlen saw the need for it and he allowed us to do that. That was really the selling point for us to keep camp here -- getting that fieldhouse here that we could run in to. Everyone knows here in Colorado those lightning storms come up on you pretty quick. During training camp, it's almost every day. So it's going to be a great benefit for us."
And it will most certainly be a great benefit to the fans -- particularly when training camp rolls around in 2015.
The Broncos will not be able to host open practices at Dove Valley during this season's training camp with the work on the new facility still ongoing. But the team will hold three open sessions at Sports Authority Field at Mile High with free parking and admission.
When open training camp practices return to Dove Valley, however, many more fans will be able to take in the sights and sounds.
Previously, the grass berm on which fans sat during practice held a maximum of 1,400 people.
"The berm seating area alone, we tripled in size," Conway noted.
Now, 5,000 fans can sit comfortably on the berm. And there's a new addition.
"The fan experience for training camp will be greatly enhanced with the viewing platform," Conway continued. "There's actually a huge, 40-foot platform on top of (the berm) that people are going to be able to come and enjoy camp."
Not to mention there will be permanent bathrooms as opposed to porta-potties.
"We're trying to make it as nice as possible," Conway said.
The berm will be a little farther away from the field than it was in the past. It moves from about six feet from the sideline -- which was a safety concern -- to 22 feet, which gives players more cushion to run off the field during drills.
The access to the players won't change -- there will still be autograph sessions following each practice. In addition, the size of the handicapped seating areas will be increased.
"So it should be a much better experience."
Other enhancements include a three-story building attached to the indoor fieldhouse. The bottom floor will feature two locker rooms that can be turned into one big locker room as well as a training room with hot and cold tubs, coaches locker rooms, a multi-purpose room for equipment staffs and even a laundry facility.
The idea is that the Broncos could host another NFL team during training camps for joint practices.
The main, middle floor will hold a new retail store that will be open year-round as well as a VIP viewing area for corporate sponsors. The top floor will hold the media, featuring a production studio and smaller interview rooms.
A 70-foot camera tower for the team's video staff to film practices sits on the new viewing platform on top of the berm, and other 45-foot camera towers will be at field-level. The team wanted to build permanent camera towers so that it would be safer for the video staff in high winds.
There will also be a bigger parking lot that will hold 370 spots, with the capacity for 100 more in a gravel lot. The fieldhouse is expected to be ready by mid-October.
Finally, the club's lobby will be back in action sometime in mid-to-late July.
"We have a much larger trophy case," Conway said. "We couldn't handle all of the stuff that we had in our old trophy case, so we've enhanced that and we have a nice, prominent space right in the middle -- with room for growth."