The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, a collaboration between a pro-sports team and a $10 billion health provider, officially opened on August 17.

“This is a first-of-its-kind establishment,” says the complex’s medical director Vonda Wright. She calls its a “true partnership between elite hockey and elite sports medicine.”

“The Penguins scoured the puck planet looking for ideas from which they possibly could model, or incorporate into, this complex,” says Chuck Finder, manager of media relations for UPMC. Finder says that when David Morehouse, CEO of the Penguins, came back to discuss what they discovered, he said, ‘I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is, there is no other place like this in the world. The good news is, there is no other place like this in the world.’

“What we’re actually doing is building better athletes and providing to everyone the same standard of care that we provide to the Penguins,” says Wright, an orthopedic surgeon.

Nice aerial LSC overview July 31 2015
Photo courtesy UPMC.

There are several components to the complex:

  • It’s the official practice and training center for the Penguins.
  • It has a sports medicine division with more than 50 professionals offering repair, rehab and other medical services. “We have full sports medicine facilities, including doctors, primary care doctors and specialists,” says Wright. “One of the things we’re very excited about is the physical therapy space on the second floor where people recovering form their own injuries will be able to look over the ice and watch the Penguins practice.”
  • It features more than 1,5000 square feet of space dedicated to a hockey skills performance program for the developing athlete. Offerings like a resistance skating lane, training stations for shooting the puck, sports nutrition and injury prevention are overseen by the sports performance director, former Penguin Gary Roberts.
  • There is a sports performance program for sports—other than hockey—that includes batting cages and a sprinting track.
  • The center also houses a sports medicine research facility. “This building will also house an expansion of our concussion program,” says Wright. “We are not only going to treat kids who have been knocked too hard into the boards, but we’ll really do a lot of research in our new research facility about how to prevent concussion and save the brains of our young skaters.”

The facility cost $73 million and spans 185,000 square feet. In case you can’t visualize it, that’s larger than three football fields, bigger than four acres of land—and since we’re talking hockey—more than 10 ice rinks.

The space breaks down to 125,000 square feet of Penguins space and 60,000 for UPMC. There are two full-size hockey rinks that seat 1,500 people. One of the rinks is dedicated public space with open skates and skating for youth teams.

Woods wanderer who was an an editor at New England’s regional magazine, the research director of a Colorado newspaper and a farm hand in Vermont before returning to Pittsburgh to write about and explore her hometown.