"It was hard to carry on conversations and meetings," said Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer.
Last week the Padres moved into a completely renovated Spring Training facility as they opened their 21st Spring Training at the Peoria Sports Complex, 20 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix.
One of the first features that the Padres noticed is the open, circular clubhouse, similar to the one they call home at Petco Park in San Diego.
"Everything is better," Stauffer said of the new facility, which also serves the club as a year-round training and rehab base as well as the home for the Padres during the Arizona Rookie League, instructional league and Arizona Fall League.
The circular clubhouse is far from the only modification made to the complex.
The City of Peoria spent $15.5 million to remodel the Padres complex, expanding the building from 48,000 to 60,846 square feet. Almost everything is new; only some exterior walls remain untouched.
Also expanded are the club's weight room, meeting room and training room, which includes a hydrotherapy pool plus four plunge pools.
The facility boasts a state-of-the-art video room. When the Padres first moved from Yuma to Peoria, video rooms did not exist in baseball.
"The complex is fantastic," said Padres general manager Josh Byrnes. "I'm actually surprised at the difference. Everything feels bigger, newer and more functional."
"It's a huge improvement," said Stauffer. "It's totally user-friendly. Not only do we have features we never had before, it's roomier and easier to negotiate. We have better access to the fields and the training and weight rooms."
The Major League clubhouse was designed with 70 player cubicles plus 22 cubicles for coaches. The Minor League clubhouse has cubicles for 201 players and 42 coaches. There are also 58 lockers that didn't exist in the old facility for trainers and members of the Padres' staff .
But the keynote feature of the Major League clubhouse is natural lighting from the windows just below the high ceiling.
"There is a great feel to the clubhouse that we lacked before," said Stauffer. "They did a great job designing everything with the player in mind."
Work on the facility started two weeks after the Padres departed Peoria last spring. While construction was going on, the Padres moved their rehab and Minor League operations to Surprise, Ariz.
However, work isn't finished.
Peoria Stadium, which is shared by the Padres and Mariners in the middle of the two-team complex, will undergo $6 million in improvements before next year's Spring Training.
Permanent seats will be added down the left-field foul line, the amount of shade will be increased, the popular berm, used for outfield seating, will be renovated and the ballpark will be repainted and enhanced with architectural features to better link the ballpark to the two teams' facilities.