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From store to rink? Wild considers former Macy's spot for practice site

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Macy's in downtown St. Paul
The former Macy's in downtown St. Paul first opened as Dayton's in 1963. It closed 50 years later, and the site has remained vacant.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News

Professional hockey players may soon skate where shoppers once strolled.

Minnesota Wild officials have confirmed that the team is considering the former Macy's store in downtown St. Paul for a practice site.

"We are going through the process of figuring [it] out," said Jamie Spencer, the team's vice president for new business development. "It was obviously not built to be a practice facility, so we are sort of doing our due diligence to see what that outcome could look like."

Macy's closed the store in March of 2013, ending a half-century run of department stores the downtown block. The building, which is owned by the St. Paul Port Authority, includes a 650-space parking ramp beneath the old retail space that is still open.

If the Wild move practices to the Macy's building, the team would follow an approach taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx. Those two teams have joined the Mayo Clinic in its $50 million jumpstart of the Block E development in downtown Minneapolis.

Later this year, Mayo Clinic will open a 20,000-square-foot medical facility and take over medical care for the NBA and WNBA franchises. The Timberwolves plan to open four new practice courts and the Lynx will move team offices across the street.

Minnesota Wild officials have not determined whether to own or lease the Macy's site. But Spencer said team officials consider a dedicated training site a must. Moving the team out of the Xcel Energy Center on non-game days could free that building for other uses.

"I don't think it's a secret that the Wild has been seeking a practice facility for some time," Spencer said. "It's a really important part ... to our future of building a Stanley Cup-winning team."

A Port Authority spokesman said it could be summer before the agency is ready to unveil its full plans for the site.