Wolves, Mayo Excited For New Partnership, "Unique" Training Facility

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx announced on Tuesday, Feb. 4 a plan to open a new practice facility across the street from Target Center in Block E. In addition to the practice facility, the team is partnering with Mayo Clinic, who will operate a sports medicine clinic adjacent to the practice space. The teams and the clinic will occupy the third level, which was formerly a movie theater.

The facility will be renamed Mayo Clinic Square and will be a facility that not only houses the Timberwolves and Lynx practice and training facility as well as the organization’s administration offices on the third and fourth levels, but it will also include a Mayo Sports Medicine Clinic for the general public on the third floor and signature restaurants on the ground level.

Mayo Clinic square will immediately begin undergoing a $50 million renovation, completely privately funded, through Mortenson Constructions and AECOM. The 213,000 square-foot building will break down into 105,000 square feet used by the Wolves, Lynx and Mayo Clinic.

“We are creating a state of the art practice facility in the NBA and in the WNBA, and one of the things that you’ll see when you look around the league is that in most cases, most facilities are out in the suburbs. And they’re opaque and they’re hidden and they’re not accessible to our fans or to the people that are interested in what the team’s doing,” Wolves Chief Executive Officer Rob Moor said. “We are going to break that mold.”

The Timberwolves and Mayo Clinic envision a facility that will not only be used to help train elite NBA athletes, but it will be accessible for youth clinics as well as rehabilitation for the general public. This facility will be used around the clock, Moor said, and it will benefit not only the Timberwolves and Lynx but also the medical practices for Mayo Clinic.

The Wolves target moving into the facility for practice use by Fall 2014, and the completion of the renovation should be by the end of 2015.

Mayo Clinic Square will have enhanced, enlarged workout areas conducive to the modern NBA team’s needs, it will have improved and updated technology, natural light and will be more transported to the public. It’s a practice facility and administrative office that sits adjacent to Target Center on First Avenue, so the team will have a fully functioning new facility that isn’t located away from the team’s arena.

One interesting fact about the process of getting this facility rolling is Wolves forward Kevin Love was involved throughout. He was flown in during the summer to be part of the original presentation to Mayo, and he was kept apprised of the designs and where the plans were headed.

Love wasn’t at the press conference on Tuesday, but he taped a video with his thoughts on getting this new facility in place.

“This is a great day for our franchises,” said Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love. “Today’s announcement of a new practice facility and training center is especially exciting for us players, as we now will have access to cutting edge medical technology as we partner with the most recognized and respected medical people in the world at Mayo. This facility is destined to become the gold standards for practice facilities in both the NBA and WNBA. These are exciting times for our franchises and I’m looking forward to our future in Mayo Clinic Square.”

Phillip Jaffe of Provident Real Estate Ventures, which owns Block E, said this is a new chapter for the building that was built 11 years ago as an urban mall outlet.

“Our mission is to bring longterm vitality to this great location in downtown Minneapolis, create a high-energy destination that offers a friendly pedestrian experience that we can all enjoy being downtown,” Jaffe said.

The announcement came as members of the Timberwolves and Lynx organization joined with Jaffe and three members of the Mayo Clinic community—Dr. Michael Stuart, Dr. Edward Laskowski and Dr. John Wald.

It complements the new Target Center renovation that is also in the works. Moor said the facility itself, connected by skyway to Target Center, will be unique across the NBA and the WNBA.

The partnership with Mayo, which will become the organization’s official medical provider in Fall 2014, is also a major part of this announcement.

“[Wolves President] Chris Wright and Rob Moor have been working on this for a long time, and I think the biggest thing is they’re aggressive with what they did,” President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders said. “They did a facility knowing that to get to the next level and not only be able to keep athletes here but also to attract athletes that we needed a state of the art practice facility and when we had a chance to do it with Mayo, that really took it over the top. We talked about what Mayo is going to be able to provide, but when you look at players and what they do for rehabilitation, pre-practice, getting ready for games, getting ready for a season, nutrition, it’s all encompassing. That’s why we think it’s a great opportunity for us.”

The practice facility is expected to create 600 new jobs, according to a team release, and the overall project is expected to create 1,300 new jobs.

The new training center itself will have two basketball courts, with the Timberwolves and Lynx each having a primary court. It will include additional offices for coaches, scouts and staff, as well as expanded training and workout areas. The space will be accessible to the community with the practice courts being available for youth basketball programs and games.

Moor thanked LifeTime Fitness for providing the training facility and TRIA Orthopaedic for providing medical care to the Wolves and Lynx up to this point, and he said this new facility will take the Wolves’ franchise to another level when it comes to resources both medically and venue-wise.

“We made a commitment as an organization that we wanted our best for our players for the Lynx players, whoever it was and so from a player performance standpoint,” Saunders said. “We moved forward, we were able to get this agreement and we’re extremely excited about the ability to work with the Mayo Clinic, our players work with the Mayo Clinic and as Rob talked about it’s also important that this facility will be used a lot. And we’re actively involved downtown here.”