A new year could ring in a new basketball experience with Target Center renovations, as the downtown Minneapolis venue housing the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx is slated to experience a three-phase upgrade that will revamp several major amenities for fans and players alike.
For most of last year the Timberwolves and Lynx, the City of Minneapolis, and arena manager AEG Facilities tried to pin down the details of the Target Center renovations, which for years had been something of a moving target. After several years of preliminary plans that saw the project cost rise and fall numerous times, the interested parties came together last year to form a $129 million agreement. The funding mechanism for this plan includes $74 million from Minneapolis, with an additional $49 million coming from Glen Taylor—owner of the Timberwolves and the Lynx—and arena manager AEG kicking in $5.9 million. As part of this deal, a plan to replace 19,000 seats within the arena was dropped.
While final approval is not expected until this spring, that agreement set into motion an ambitious plan to keep the Timberwolves and AEG committed to the Target Center through at least 2035. According to the timeline released in October, the first round of improvements will begin this summer. During that phase, the Target Center will receive video and audio production enhancements, as well as an overhauled suite level.
Once those enhancements are complete, work will begin on the behind the scenes aspects of Target Field. Starting in the fall of 2016, the loading docks and the marshaling yard will be upgraded.
That phase of the renovation will last into early 2017, setting the stage for a sweeping final step that will bring many changes to the Target Center. During the third phase, work will be completed in many of the arena’s common areas, including a new lobby and upgrades to the existing concourses. In addition, bathrooms and concessions will be overhauled and the last round of premium club spaces will be added. Behind the scenes, the locker room and dressing rooms areas will be completely revamped.
These changes will take place over the summer of 2017, meaning that all of Target Center’s new amenities could be in place by the beginning of the 2017-2018 NBA season. While that would be a big boost to the Timberwolves, the Lynx will have to wait until 2018 to experience the new arena, as the scope of phase three will likely force them to seek another home venue within the Twin Cities to play their 2017 home schedule.
Aside from assuring that Minneapolis retains basketball, the renovation of the Target Center will maintain the characteristics of the downtown warehouse and entertainment district. That section of downtown Minneapolis includes numerous pre- and post-game destinations that serve not only Target Center, but next-door Target Field, home of MLB’s Minnesota Twins, and has existing parking and public transportation options to serve both facilities.
If these renovations come to fruition, downtown Minneapolis will feature three major sporting venues that have either been built or renovated within this decade. The Twins began playing at Target Field in 2010. Later this year, the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings will move into brand new U.S. Bank Stadium, which is currently being constructed on the former site of the Metrodome.