Essendon players are walking into new-look entrances at the NEC Hangar this pre-season in an initiative driven by senior coach Ben Rutten.

The decals honour some of the Bombers’ heroes and moments, serving players with a powerful reminder of the club’s history when they enter the club.

Rutten said they were an important addition.

“The club has such a strong and successful history and this is something that sets us apart from other clubs. It is critical that our players, coaches and staff understand who has walked before us, and their contribution to the club," Rutten said.

"If we are going to be able to represent the club, our people, our members and our supporters, we must have a clear understanding of who we are as Essendon people."

The players' entrance to the NEC Hangar. (Photo: Essendon FC)
A quote from the great Adam Ramanauskas inside the players' stairwell. (Photo: Essendon FC)
A nod to club games record holder Dustin Fletcher. (Photo: Essendon FC)

The decals are part of minor AFL upgrades in phase one of the $21 million development of the NEC Hangar, with expanded meeting rooms and improvements to the players’ lounge and kitchen completed before the 2020 season.

General manager of strategic operations and community Jess Newman explained Rutten's vision, saying the other upgrades would also drive improvements in the nutrition space.

“The connection to our rich history is something Ben Rutten in particular has been very strong on. He wants our players to be reminded of the club’s long-standing success and its key heroes and moments across the journey to help inspire the boys when they come into training each day,” Newman said.

“He’s also organising a range of training sessions at Windy Hill so that the boys can create a connection to our spiritual home as well.

“In preparation for our AFLW team hopefully coming and the desire to continue to deliver best practice facilities for our AFL team, we’ve also reconfigured our existing Heymanson Player Lounge to allow greater capacity to sit and eat during the day in that space.

“We also upgraded our player nutrition facilities to be within that space, as they were quite separate to the players’ area before. In doing so, we’re hoping that the focus on nutrition and diet as part of our high-performance program will go from strength and strength.

“We also hope that through the proximity of the kitchen, we’ll be able to deliver more nutrition education to the players to allow them to learn how they can prepare the appropriate food for themselves when they go home as well.”

The meals area as part of the Heymanson Player Lounge. (Photo: Essendon FC)

The first phase of the NEC Hangar expansion will also include: dedicated women’s football facilities; new atrium reception, café and retail areas; and dormitory accommodation for Paralympics Australia para-athletes, members of the club’s Next Generation Academy and associated community leagues.

They are on track for completion as early as February.

Phase two, which was recently funded by the State Government, is due to be completed in mid-2021. It will include a sports museum, community education hub and health clinic, and community change rooms.

Essendon wishes to thank Harris HMC, Jackson Architects, the Federal and State Governments, extended project team and its generous project donors for their ongoing commitment in bringing the club’s vision to life.