Posted at: 02/04/2014 10:51 PM
By: Jenna Lohse
(ABC 6 News) -- Plans are in the works for Mayo Clinic to extend its efforts in sports medicine to the Twin Cities. Mayo Clinic will soon be the medical provider for the Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves. The announcement came Tuesday, as part of a planned $100 million upgrade to Target Center.
What's known now as Block E in downtown Minneapolis will soon be renovated and renamed Mayo Clinic Square.
"You think of Mayo Clinic, you think of the best and we made a commitment within the organization that we wanted the best,” said Flip Saunders, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx along with Mayo Clinic announced a new partnership Tuesday. "This relationship is so unique, no one in the NBA has anything like this,” said Saunders.
The $50 million project will transform Block E across from the Target Center to what will soon be Mayo Clinic Square. A new state-of-the-art practice facility is in the works. The movie theaters on the 3rd floor will be turned into two basketball courts along with locker rooms. The upgrade will also include a 20,000 square-foot Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Facility.
"Services in this new facility will include the evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries, but also performance solution programs and sports specific skill development,” said Dr. Michael Stewart, Co-Director Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center.
"That will help us stay ahead of the competition and continue the run we've had over the last three years to be the premier team of the WNBA,” said Roger Griffith, Lynx General Manager.
"When you can be practicing and walk through a door and you're going to have top of the line medical people dealing with your players, that's all you can ask for,” said Saunders.
But the point of the new partnership isn't just to enhance performance of NBA stars. "To allow those youngsters, those everyday athletes, the weekend warriors who trip on a toy in their living room to come here and sit next to the Ricky Rubios or the Kevin Loves of the world, watch them practice through a transparent facility, that's where it gets exciting,” said Dr. John Wald,
Mayo sees an opportunity to take lessons learned back to the sports medicine facility in Rochester. The partnership gives that little extra advantage our Minnesota basketball teams are looking for.
"Considering we lost a lot of close games, I’m hoping to give us a couple points, if you can give a couple points it can help put you up over the edge,” said Saunders.
Organizers see no reason to wait on this new venture. Construction actually starts Wednesday on the soon to be Mayo Clinic Square with plans to open the state-of-the-art facility coming this fall.