Mayo Clinic leaders and executives from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx professional basketball teams joined Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the teams' new practice facilities in downtown Minneapolis.

At 107,000 square feet, the $25 million project is twice as large as the NBA standard and was lauded as a new benchmark for elite training facilities by none other than NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. It adjoins the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, with all parties sharing a refurbished building newly christened as Mayo Clinic Square.

"We had a vision not only of a place to practice but a gold standard place to practice," said Timberwolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor. "We couldn't be more proud to have a gold standard Minnesota institution at our side."

"The Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center will serve professional athletes and people of all ages and athletic abilities who need care," said Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy. "Thank you for your warm welcome to the Twin Cities."

More than 350 business and community leaders were on hand to tour Mayo Clinic Square. Guests included Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, WNBA President Laurel Richie and a crush of metro-area television and sports press, including Sid Hartman, whose likeness has been preserved in bronze on the sidewalk across the street.

Though the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center officially opened last fall, the day was something of a coming out party for Mayo in the Twin Cities. Nestled within the sprawling training facility, the 20,000-square-foot Sports Medicine Center places the Mayo name atop a growing market for privately obtained injury-prevention and athletic training services for amateur athletes seeking to experience the same level of attention offered to professional athletes.

The clinic has partnered with Exos, a national operator of elite athletic performance training centers with a focus on critical movement skills and protection from injuries. The training facility comes equipped with a sophisticated motion analysis equipment, 40 yards of running turf, two-story netting for ball sport training and a host of exercise equipment.

Rounding out the site are a pair of professional sized courts, one for the Lynx and one for the Timberwolves, expansive corporate offices for the teams, a movie theater and sprawling Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center patient examination, imaging labs and rehab areas. With its name prominently posted on the team practice courts and walls, every shot of the franchise during training will broadcast the Mayo name. The facility replaces a previous team practice space in the subbasement of the Target Center.

As such, though it was held in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, the affair was in many ways a DMC event, with local legislators and DMC head Lisa Clarke on hand to celebrate the day.

The day also showcased a looser Mayo, one merging Mayo brass with the high-energy world of professional sports. Over light fare, top Mayo clinicians mingled with sports announcers, NBA cheerleaders, costumed mascots and a DJ working the turntables.

"It gives us an outstanding training opportunity," said Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders. "Just to have 24-7 access for the players needing injuries looked at by Mayo sports medicine doctors. Combined with Athlete's Performance (now Exos), we can get quick evaluations and good training opportunities. It really is a gold standard facility."

The facility sits on the third and fourth floor of the city's infamous former "Block E" building. Wholly re-designed for a new use and medical and sports clientele, it has been polished up and toned down with stone and glass touches. The lobby holds commanding views of the Target Center and iconic warehouse district entertainment properties like the nightclub First Avenue.

For branding purposes, the Clinic couldn't have selected a location with greater visibility -- standing at a nexus linking the city's business district with its bustling sports and entertainment district, and thousands of urban dwellers living in renovated buildings just beyond the way. The sea of fans regularly heading into and out of nearby Target Field are greeted by the glow of the Mayo three shields logo.

"I've toured great athletic facilities from around the league and all over the world," remarked Silver. "Frankly, I've never seen anything like this.

"These are how championship organizations are built."

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