New Wolves practice facility delayed six months, but will be worth wait

An artist'€™s rendering depicts the Timberwolves'€™ plan for a new practice facility.

Courtesy: Minnesota Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS — Those anticipating substantial infrastructural alterations at the Timberwolves’ home base will have to wait until at least after the 2014-15 season.

The team’s new Mayo Clinic Square practice facility’s expected completion date has been pushed back six months, thanks to some unforeseen vibration issues discovered upon gutting the downtown Minneapolis complex formerly known as Block E. And the Target Center’s long-awaited facelift is still in the design process, meaning construction likely won’t begin until next summer at the earliest.

Once they’re finally completed, though, both projects will be well worth the wait, Wolves chief marketing officer Ted Johnson told FOXSportsNorth.com.

"We’re terribly excited to get these facilities built," Johnson said. "We’re definitely the talk of the industry."

Even if progress isn’t going quite as planned.

Upon tearing into Block E early this year, crews found the building’s current construction would cause significant vibration issues throughout its levels. From mid-March till mid-May, construction progress slowed while the Wolves brought in outside consultants to deal with the issue.

The solution: special flooring underneath the practice gym’s courts and weightlifting and cardio areas designed to mitigate sound.

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"What you have is a steel-frame building with Olympic weightlifting going on, the sound of basketballs pounding on the floor, and big heavy people jumping around," Johnson said. "It’s such a unique facility that there’s not a whole lot of science out there about how to solve the issues."

Originally, president of basketball operations and coach Flip Saunders had hoped to commence training camp Sept. 29 at Mayo Clinic Square, which quadruples as the Timberwolves and Lynx’s practice home, their corporate headquarters and a state-of-the-art sports medicine center. But camp will instead take place at Minnesota State’s Bresnan Arena in Mankato, the hometown of Wolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor.

Installing additional floor material caused many of the building’s specs to be changed. By the time altered plans were created, the local construction industry hit its peak time of the year, and a slowed-down process of ascertaining crews to complete the work caused further delays.

The $20 million, team-funded project’s price tag is expected to rise with the changes. The expected completion date is now at the end of April or early May, depending when the Wolves season concludes.

That of the Target Center isn’t as set in stone.

The Wolves are currently working with renovation design firm Dimensional Innovations, Architectural Alliance and Sink Combs Dethlefs and Mortenson Construction to finalize designs for the arena’s near-$100 million makeover. Johnson said he’s hopeful the parties can draft a maximum guaranteed price by early next year and get cracking on construction sometime in the summer.

Once work begins, it’ll take about 18 months to complete. A major point of emphasis, Johnson said, is learning from Mortenson when and where crews can work while the Timberwolves and Lynx are in season.

The building will have to be shut down on occasion, but the goal is to keep it open and functioning as much as possible during the process.

"During Timberwolves season, you’re obviously limited to things you can work on inside the building," Johnson said. "Other things, like the exterior, not so much."

Delays aside, Johnson said he’s been hearing from other teams and organizations within the sports industry regarding the simultaneous projects. People are particularly excited about the multidimensional scope of Mayo Clinic Square, he said.

"It’s a compelling strategy, and people are really excited to see what (the practice facility) ends up being," Johnson said. "For the team, it’s been a great 26 years here in the Target Center, and we’re excited to get a refresh."

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