Local Current Blog

Target Center renovation plans may finally hit the bullseye

You might be wondering what ever happened to the planned renovation of Target Center, which in addition to hosting games by the Timberwolves and the Lynx also serves as Minnesota’s second-largest enclosed concert venue. It’s well-known that the behemoth arena has been in need of some upkeep for awhile, and just over a year ago the arena’s owners shared images of how the building might look after renovations.

In a recent MinnPost article, Britt Robson details the various holdups in plans to improve the 25-year-old building—and explains why Target Center will likely be with us until 2035, though probably not much longer than that.

After years of discussion, why hasn’t any work begun on the building? The fact that renovations are being financed jointly by three different parties—the City of Minneapolis, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, and arena managers AEG—plays a big role in the delay.

In 2011, Mayor Rybak and the Wolves released a $155 million plan to renovate the building in a frame of 12-18 months. However, no work ever began, since the city and the team couldn’t agree upon how much money each party should contribute. This was repeated in 2012, with a proposed budget of $135 million. An agreement wasn’t reached until late 2013, when AEG, the Timberwolves organization, and the city agreed on a budget of $97 million.

Now, we’re halfway through 2015 and Target Center looks…exactly the same. Due to market fluctuations, construction prices increased and put a hold on any progress. In April, the city agreed to increase its contribution to get the ball rolling, and the three parties finally signed the renovation development agreement last week. Once everyone agrees on an exact construction estimate, work can finally begin.

The idea of replacing the venue entirely has been discussed, but since the building is still in serviceable shape (“It has good bones,” a city official tells Robson), it will likely be kept around until the Timberwolves’ extended lease expires in 2035.

In the 25 years since construction was completed on Target Center, thousands of games have been played on its gleaming basketball courts and many big-name artists have performed for massive crowds. This is somewhat of a logistical feat, notes Robson: the building has only one loading dock and one elevator, and Target Field has squeezed parking for the two dozen trucks it can require to transport the equipment for a big arena show. This makes it more of a challenge to load those shows at Target Center as opposed to newer arenas like the Xcel Energy Center.

Even so, Target Center still hosts some of the biggest local shows every year, from Arcade Fire to Stevie Wonder. Earlier this year, Garth Brooks broke records with a remarkable 11 sold-out shows (see Jill Riley’s review), and Rhymesayers has just booked the arena for a 20th anniversary blowout in December.

Allegra Wallingford, of Eden Prairie, is a rising sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. She runs a music blog called the Suburban Hipster and drinks a lot of coffee.