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Mayo Clinic's Block E is off to a fast start

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Physical therapist Chris Fjosne works on patient documentation in a space overlooking the turf at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — Mayo Clinic Square in downtown Minneapolis was touted as sports medicine's new "gold standard" when it opened in June. It might soon be getting bigger and better.

Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, medical director of Mayo Clinic Square, said Thursday that that possibility of expanding skyward to provide additional services is being discussed. While those talks are preliminary and have no specific timeline, the first six months of operation have shown the facility fills a unique medical niche.

"It's provided great access to the downtown population because there's not currently another orthopedic operation downtown," Dr. Finnoff said. "They're all located in the suburbs, so this has been very convenient for everyone who works in this area.

"We're currently going through strategic planning discussions regarding what key services and additions might be warranted based on our first year's experience."

The 22,000-square-foot facility across the street from Target Center drew dignitaries from throughout the state for the June 17 ribbon-cutting, which marked a unique joining of medicine, sports, business and politics. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA President Laurel Richie were among those who joined Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges at the renovated Block E building.


Mayo Clinic Square has provided the Wolves and Lynx with their own practices facilities, prompting Silver to call it the new "gold standard" for professional sports.

The soft opening in early 2014 saw the sports medicine clinic handle 30 to 60 patients per day until the official opening in October 2014. The soft opening allowed the facility to work out potential kinks, and it now handles up to 99 patients per day.

"In certain areas, we're far exceeding expectations … and in other areas we're still building," Finnoff said.

In early September, Mayo Clinic added the Twin Cities' first wide bore MRI machine. The cutting-edge piece of machinery weighs 17,000 pounds and is twice as strong as a conventional MRI scanner. It allows for more detailed images aimed at producing improved diagnoses, which is especially useful for the Wolves and Lynx franchises who play next door.

So what's the facility missing? Finnoff declined to share specifics — "We're still discussing that" — but a recent tour of the facility offered some clues.

The facility isn't currently equipped to handle back injuries, and a surgical suite could prove beneficial. EXOS, an elite training program that routinely helps athletes prepare for draft testing, could also benefit from a larger weight room and an expanded space, which currently features just 35 yards of artificial turf.

Unlike Mayo Clinic's sports medicine facility in Rochester, the Minneapolis site is also without an artificial ice rink for training hockey players.

"Hockey is huge in this state," said Ian Ward, who provided the Post-Bulletin with a tour of the Minneapolis facility. "Being able to have that presence in the metro would be huge."


NHL and NFL players have frequented the facility, along with top-level athletes looking for an edge in sports such as tennis and skiing. Amateur athletes involved in baseball and golf have also been making frequent stops to seek expert advice, Ward said.

Finnoff said he's hopeful that the partnership with professional sports organizations will raise Mayo's profile among the younger demographic while also establishing it as a go-to spot for serious athletes.

"Minneapolis has a lot of benefits to doing this type of training than somewhere like (Los Angeles), which has a lot of distractions," Finnoff said, noting the close proximity to the international airport and an attached hotel. "This is a place that will embrace them and welcome them, but also allow them to be a little more focused."

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