Target Center renovations are finally on the way, as the Minneapolis City Council approved a $129-million upgrade plan for the home of the Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA).
The plan will open Target Center to the surrounding neighborhood, which has changed dramatically since the arena opened in 1990. At that time Target Center was a little off the action, surrounded with open parking lots and the edge of the Warehouse District. Now, Target Center is in the middle of the action: Target Field is next door, and the surrounding area has been upgraded with new bars, restaurants and hotels. The renovations will add a dramatic new entryway at the corner of First Avenue and Sixth Street (shown above). Inside the arena, fans will be exposed to revamped concourses, new premium spaces and a more open floor plan. And some of the work will also upgrade needed support facilities like loading docks.
The funding plan: the city will use $74 million in sales tax dollars, while the Timberwolves owners contributing $49 million and AEG, which managed Target Center, paying another $5.9 million.
The renovation proposal was not without some vigorous debate. In the past the city approved a controversial plan for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, and some politicos wanted to draw the line on sports spending. (They already succeeded on one front: they managed to kill a proposal for a new downtown MLS stadium) This time, however, the opposition was thwarted by an argument that since the city of Minneapolis owns the arena, the city has a duty to maintaining and upgrading it. The Twin Cities are unique in their ability to support two arenas — Target Center competes with St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center for events — but the upgraded Target Center was seen as crucial in remaining competitive. From the Star Tribune:
The motion drew some critics who objected to the city pursuing the project while grappling with basic service needs, including shortfalls in parks and road funding. But supporters noted the city owns the facility, giving it an obligation to keep it competitive.
The final vote was 10-3, with Lisa Bender, Andrew Johnson and Alondra Cano voting “no.”
The work is set to be done for the 2017-2018 NBA season.