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Wolves, Lynx, Mayo Clinic Unveil New Plans For ‘Block E’

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Soon enough, the area known as Block E may be better known as Mayo Clinic Square.

The plan to retrofit the much beleaguered Block E in downtown Minneapolis was unveiled on Tuesday afternoon. The announcement was made amid a partnership between the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Minnesota Lynx and the Mayo Clinic.

The location will house a practice facility for the two basketball teams, as well as a sports medicine clinic just adjacent to the practice space.

“This is a great day for our franchises,” Timberwolves forward Kevin Love said. “These are exciting times for our franchises and I’m looking forward to our future in Mayo Square Clinic.”

Timberwolves owner Flip Saunders said the team should benefit from the arrangement because it will allow them their own space to practice. They and the Lynx are currently practicing in the LifeTime Fitness facilities below ground level in Target Center.

“When you visit other practice facilities around the NBA, it becomes clear the current situation for our players lags behind other teams,” Saunders said. “The new practice facility and Mayo Clinic partnership will be great assets in attracting the top talent in the NBA.”

The Mayo’s sports medicine clinic will go where Block E’s movie theater used to be, on the third floor.

The medical facility will be open to everyone — and officials say they hope patients will get a glimpse of the pros (like Kevin Love and Seimone Augustus) working at rehab for further motivation.

Along with the new facilities, the plans also call for about 120,000 square feet of renovated space available to new tenants on the ground floor and skyway levels.

“The renovation will dramatically enhance the exterior appearance and fix Block E’s public circulation flaws with new grander entrances and a new ground floor corridor that connects Hennepin Avenue with 1st Avenue,” Carl Runck, Alatus LLC, Camelot’s development manager, said.

The owners plan to invest more than $50 million to redevelop the property. And they say, these are private dollars, not publicly subsidized.

Also with this size of a facility, you can imagine quite a few jobs will be created. They say they project 1,300 people will, come a few years, call this their place of employment.

The first phase of the project should be complete by fall 2014. The entire facility will be open to the public by the end of 2015.

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