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Minneapolis, Timberwolves propose $155M Target Center makeover

{jathumbnail off} {slimbox single images/targetcenterrenos/targetcenterrevamp1.jpg,images/targetcenterrenos/targetcenterrevamp1sm.jpg,Proposed Target Center renovations.}

Aiming to spruce up an aging arena built on the cheap and at the end of its economic functionality, the city of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA) are proposing a $155-million makeover of Target Center, though a financial plan has not been finalized.

It seems amazing, but Target Center is now the fifth-oldest arena in the NBA (Madison Square Garden, Oracle Arena, Arco Arena, and Bradley Center are all older), opened in 1990 by the former Timberwolves owners Harvey Ratner and Marv Wolfenson. Built for $104 million, the arena was an odd addition to downtown, also containing a health club owned by the Wolves owners and initially not connected to the city’s extensive skyway system.

After 20 years, it’s pretty clear the arena is financially obsolete, requiring a $1.5 million yearly subsidy from the city and $750,000 annually from the state just to break even. And while there have been improvements made in recent years (most notably a green roof two years ago), it is not considered to be an especially lucrative venue for promoters, with a lack of group and party areas and a layout with more seats in the upper level than the lower level.

{slimbox single images/targetcenterrenos/targetcenterrevamp2.jpg,images/targetcenterrenos/targetcenterrevamp2sm.jpg,Proposed Target Center renovations.}

The plan calls for a new entrance to the arena at the corner of Sixth Street and First Avenue, along with a new restaurant and more open views of nearby Target Field in an attempt to bring fans into the facility year-round; basically, the northwest end of the arena will be opened up to the street with a wall of glass. The concrete concourses will be upgraded and widened. Some suites will be removed — particularly those on the northwest end, making room for a bar-like area — and some seating will go as well.

The proposal today from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and reps from building manager AEG was a little short on specifics: it served more to lay out the need for putting more money into a Target Center at a time when a much superior arena, Xcel Energy Center, sits across the river in St. Paul. They argue there are enough events in the Twin Cities area to support two arenas, but the smart money says otherwise: given the current Target Center already requires more than a million in city subsidy and undoubtedly a huge amount for renovations from the state, one could argue it is not an economically wise decision to throw good money after bad. There is not a market that can support two major arenas, and the Twin Cities are no different.

{slimbox single images/targetcenterrenos/targetcenterrevamp3.jpg,images/targetcenterrenos/targetcenterrevamp3sm.jpg,Proposed Target Center renovations.}

Renderings courtesy of Minneapolis and the Timberwolves, prepared by Ellerbe Becket. For more information, visit Click on the image for a larger version.

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