Drive Nation Sports Complex
2550 Rental Car Drive (south entrance to DFW Airport)
Drive Nation Sports – a $10.4 million state-of-the-art indoor multi-sport training and events facility focused on young athletes beyond just the physical – officially opened Oct. 26.
Six-time NBA All-Star Jermaine O’Neal founded the facility after his 18-year basketball career ended with the hope of teaching young athletes about life as well as sports.
The goal of the complex is to merge development, technology and sports, said Drive Nation representative Brian Briscoe.
Drive Nation Sports is located at 2550 Rental Car Drive near the south entrance to DFW Airport on just over 16 acres of airport-owned land.
According to the Dallas Morning News, per the airport’s 40-year contract with Drive Nation, the facility will pay $146,000 per year in rent for four years and $282,000 per year for the next 36 years.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jermaine [O’Neal] and Drive Nation knowing that they have a vision for serving people through the personal relationships and their innovations in technology,” said John Terrell, DFW Airport vice president of commercial development.
“They are going to be a great asset not just for DFW Airport, not just for Irving and our owner cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, but for the entire North Texas community,” Terrell said.
O’Neal moved to North Texas with his wife and kids three years ago.
“It takes a lot of great people in a lot of great areas to support a kid, especially in a challenging environment,” O’Neal said.
He said that for him, his coach was worth much more to him than just sports knowledge. Coaches taught O’Neal about life and helped him to have access to opportunities he wouldn’t have had without athletics.
O’Neal has the same hopes for the mentors and trainers at Drive Nation who work with the young athletes.
The facility will host local leagues and club teams and offer individualized training.
O’Neal said he hopes this facility will be able to teach young athletes and their families the same level of health and wellness information for both physical and mental health that he and his colleagues have received at the pro level.
While many parents and coaches think the best way for youth athletes to improve at their craft is to practice, practice, practice and play, play, play, O’Neal says that constant relentless work can ultimately hurt and damage the bodies of young athletes.
To address this issue, O’Neal has incorporated health and wellness and recovery in the foundation of the Drive Nation sports facility.
There will be equipment and rooms dedicated to physical training, rehabilitation and nutrition and wellness education, as well as various sports technologies available.
Parents will be able to see their child’s health and sports stats with just a Wi-Fi connection and there will be health professionals on site to assess the athletes weekly to determine if they will be on or off the court.
“As an athlete that’s been around for a long time who had some issues late in my career, I was able to see how much wear and tear the day-to-day playing does to your body,” O’Neal said.
“Kids are so much bigger, stronger faster than they’ve ever been that you have to find a way to make sure their bodies are cleared for that type of impact,” O’Neal said.
“We have our medical [staff] and our trainers determine where the kids are at. If they can’t pass assessments, then they can’t practice. And they get assessments once a week and we have a data system that stores that as well.”
Irvine Mayor Rick Stopfer says the city is excited to have this new sports facility within its city limits, and that he appreciates the stress on stretching, recovery and nutrition in addition to just physical health.
“We look forward to allowing the children who live within our community to have access to this facility,” Stopfer said. “The kids today are more competitive than they have ever been and the challenges that run into as they put everything into what they do, Mr. O’Neal was fortunate to see this and say there needs to be more [done].”
The Drive Nation facility includes hardwood courts, mezzanine viewing spaces, a café and seating area, various multi-purpose rooms, team rooms, a conference room and more.
Additionally, the facility has a turf field for soccer, football and sports training, areas for performance training, a speed track, strength components and a hydrotherapy/training center.
Though the facility just opened, O’Neal said it is booked for events, tournaments, training and more every weekend through mid-September 2018.
Various sports teams from Irving Independent School District high schools attended the grand opening and ribbon cutting. During his remarks, O’Neal had a message for the young athletes.
“To the kids that are here … sports give you a taste of what life is,” O’Neal said. “The competitive edge, the struggle, the emotional roller coaster, the challenges on a day-to-day basis.
“A lot of times people don’t understand us and our dreams, but that’s fine. They’re our dreams,” O’Neal said. “Whatever you want to be, you go get it. That’s what this life is about. One of the hardest things you can do in your life is be successful.”