Team clinics extend medical services to public
The intersection of sports and medicine has moved beyond naming-rights deals and simple sponsorships and into full-fledged medical centers and sports medicine hubs.
In Kansas City, for example, Sporting Kansas City and U.S. Soccer last month took the wraps off a new training facility that incorporates a sports medicine center for athletes and the public.
In Frisco, Texas, the Baylor Scott & White Health hospital system is set to open a $100 million, 300,000-square-foot hospital at The Star, the training facility and headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys.
In downtown Minneapolis, the Mayo Clinic opened a sports medicine center in 2014 as part of a development that includes a new practice facility for the Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA Lynx.
Brand plays are over. Instead, health care systems are setting up shop at team facilities and extending their services to the public. Their pitch to patients is the opportunity to get treatment at a pro sports facility, rehab at the same place pro athletes do, and make use of the same medical staff.
■ ■ ■ ■
The $75 million Pinnacle National Development Center in Kansas City extends Sporting KC’s relationship with Children’s Mercy Hospital, a regional pediatric hospital that has naming rights to the team’s stadium. Children’s Mercy contributed $6.6 million to build a sports medicine center for the public and athletes into the new complex.
The Pinnacle Center, formerly the National Training and Coaching Development Center, includes high-tech medical equipment such as hyperbaric chambers, therapy pools, altitude training and a cryotherapy lab for players. It shares rehabilitation and medical areas where young people will go through physical therapy and rehab beside professional athletes.
Health care provided
Approximately three dozen professional teams or collegiate sports programs play or train at a facility that has been named by a health care provider, according to SportsBusiness Journal research. Ten of those partnerships have been integrated to include on-site medical services that are available to the public.
Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy & Research at The Star
Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center
Emory Healthcare Courts
New York Islanders
Northwell Health Ice Center
Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex*
Sporting Kansas City, U.S. Soccer
Pinnacle National Development Center
St. Vincent Center
Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx
The Courts at Mayo Clinic Square
UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex
UPMC Rooney Sports Complex
* Founding partner NovaCare operates a rehabilitation center within the facility that is open to the public. Virtua Health System is also a founding partner of the building.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal research
Jason Yoder, operations manager for Children’s Mercy at the new Pinnacle Center, said the project gives young athletes a chance “to rehab and train in an environment they would otherwise only experience in a college or professional setting.”
Added MLS Commissioner Don Garber, “This is unique. It’s unprecedented. To have a facility like this shows we are all in this together and what we can do to help grow the game.”
The state of Kansas helped finance the Sporting KC center via $62 million in bonds linked to sales tax revenue.
“This facility, as a surgeon, is unbelievable. It’s a dream,” said Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, a former surgeon. “And it’s right here in Kansas.”
Sporting KC CEO Jake Reid estimates U.S. Soccer will use the new center as many as 250 days out of the year to train thousands of coaches and players. That also includes national teams and its players, which provides the ultimate recruiting ground.
“When a player comes to visit and sees a facility like this, they also bring their agent,” Reid said. “We’re not hiding from it.”
In Frisco, the Baylor Scott project includes brain injury, concussion and orthopedic programs, a sports performance wing, urgent care center and a Gatorade Sports Science Institute.
Jerry Jones Jr., executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer for the Cowboys, said the team’s partnership with Baylor Scott & White creates a “Mayo Clinic of sports.” Said Jones, “I think we are truly revolutionizing sports medicine and sports orthopedics.”
Jones said the concept for the medical partnership came after the Cowboys opened their own medical imaging and MRI clinic in 2005. He said the success of that venture, which has also moved to Frisco with the team, gave the Cowboys the impetus for a full-on hospital partnership and development with Baylor Scott. Baylor Scott is leasing the space from Blue Star Land, a Jones family real estate business, and the hospital officially opens June 26.
Team doctors and surgeons who have had top athletes as clients have long benefited from those relationships. Now, with on-site ventures, the branding benefits extend to the hospital and health care groups, Jones said.
That’s even true for the Mayo Clinic and the sports medicine center in downtown Minneapolis where the Timberwolves and Lynx practice. The development, called The Courts at Mayo Clinic Square, is across from the Target Center arena. Mayo expanded the center last year.
“It was to position ourselves differently in the marketplace, to really change the way people think about our brand,” said Dr. John Wald, a medical director for Mayo.
Wald said the Minneapolis sports medicine practice takes the hospital to new demographics. “We deal with the weekend warrior and we deal with young people in sports,” Wald said.
Mayo — which also has the jersey sponsorship for the Lynx — has physical therapy as well as a focus on injury prevention at its center.
■ ■ ■ ■
Logan Gerken, director of project development for Mortenson Construction’s sports and entertainment division, which has built a number of facilities including the Mayo center, said such projects give health care systems an opportunity to activate in a greater way.
Gerken said partnering with hometown teams allows hospitals to reach out to the scores of youth, high school and college athletes, and their families. And that branding is magnified if patients can sometimes work out or rehab next to professional athletes. “It gives them instant credibility,” he said.
The activation has meant more work for the likes of Mortenson and architecture firms such as HOK and Populous.
“We have seen an uptake in these developments to have stronger partnerships,” said Scott Radecic, a senior principal with Populous and a former NFL player. Populous designed the Pinnacle Center in Kansas City.
Nate Appleman, director of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice and a senior vice president, also has seen more medical and health-related sports facilities being developed at the college level. Appleman said college and pro teams view the new medical facilities as investments in their athletes. HOK has done medical projects for the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio) University.
Appleman expects more medical and hospital groups to see the advantages of sports medicine developments with teams — especially as a way to connect with patients.
“They have the opportunity to collaborate with a well-established professional team, connect their brands and, in the case of recent projects, offer their patients the opportunity to go where the pros go,” he said.