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St. Paul mayor: Move Timberwolves to Xcel

Minnesota TimberwolvesAs part of a restructuring of the sports facilities in the Twin Cities, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is proposing Target Center be downgraded to a practice facility and the Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA) move to an upgraded Xcel Energy Center — but it’s highly unlikely to happen.

Coleman’s arena pitch came as part of a larger proposal to fund new professional-sports facilities in the area: a statewide tax on alcoholic drinks could help fund a new Minnesota Vikings stadium on the current Metrodome site, a new St. Paul Saints ballpark and upgrades to Xcel Energy Center, the home of the Minnesota Wild (NHL). Target Center would lose the Wolves as part of the plan.

There’s a lot of appeal to what Coleman is proposing: Minneapolis-St. Paul isn’t large enough to support two major arenas, so as a result both suffer and rely on subsidies. Take away the competition, book more events in St. Paul, and the subsidies could end.

Politically, the plan probably wouldn’t fly. Even though you could make the argument the Vikings are a statewide resource, outstate legislators cringe at the idea of forcing their constituents to pony up two pennies on a Club and 7 in order to fund a Twin Cities stadium. And Minneapolis officials are protective of Target Center despite its city-funded debt service and city subsidy, although a $155-million makeover of the arena seems to be dead at the moment. It’s highly unlikely the Minnesota Legislature will be taking up the sports-facility challenge in any upcoming special sessions (the Legislature adjourned last week sans a budget, so a special session to pass a balanced one is mandatory), but the issue will be huge in 2012. Maybe by then the Wild folks and Coleman can convince T-Wolves owner Glen Taylor he’s better off running the team in St. Paul.

RELATED STORIES: Minneapolis, Timberwolves propose $155M Target Center makeover

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