Minneapolis seeks $150m Target Center renovation

In yet another sign that sports stadiums and arenas are the gifts that keep on costing money, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is looking for $150 million in state money to renovate the Timberwolves‘ Target Center, which was built in 1990 and just renovated in 2004. The improvements this time around would include two large glass atriums, a new restaurant, and a complete remodeling of the inside to “make the building more attractive to traveling concerts and shows,” according to the Associated Press.

As for what’s in it for Minnesota to attract more traveling concerts and shows, that’s not so clear: The Target Center is managed by AEG, and while a quick scan of the operating agreement makes it look like the city gets a cut of revenues, it’s going to be tough to generate enough new money to pay off $150 million in renovations. I’m sure Rybak will cite increased economic activity outside the arena as a justification, but as we’ve seen time and time again, much of that would only be cannibalized from elsewhere in town, or at least elsewhere in the state — it’s not like a ton of people are going to be driving in from North Dakota to see the latest Limp Bizkit tour.

In any event, it doesn’t look like the Target Center reno plans are going anywhere for the moment: Rybak didn’t even include them in this year’s legislative funding requests. Still, elected officials seem eager to include the arena with the Vikings stadium and a new St. Paul Saints stadium on the state’s agenda sooner than later: “I think there will be an effort to at least throw out the idea of a solution for all of these facilities,” Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “A broader solution has to be found.” Be afraid, be very afraid.


7 comments on “Minneapolis seeks $150m Target Center renovation

  1. A couple of things to correct in your article.

    First, the City of Minneapolis has not asked for any money yet from the state. So stating they are looking for $150 million is false.

    Second, your citation that Target Center was “renovated in 2004” is from Wikipedia, where it states the citation is missing. So really, you have no citation for that statement. In 2004, Target Center had some work done, including a new scoreboard paid for by the Timberwolves, but a new scoreboard and replacing seats are hardly a renovation. That is called upkeep.

    Third, when you state “it’s not like a ton of people are going to be driving in from North Dakota to see the latest Limp Bizkit tour,” you must not have known that 13% of all visitors to Target Center are from outside Minnesota. And since the facility averages about a million visitors per year, that is more than 100,000 people a year coming into Minnesota because of Target Center.

  2. 1. The mayor has said he wants a $150 million renovation and that he plans to “rely heavily” on state funds. That’s “looking for money” in my book.

    2. Adding 1,500 seats and reconfiguring the lower seating bowl, as was done in 2004, is definitely a renovation.

    3. “Are from outside Minnesota” or “Came from outside Minnesota just to go to Target Center”? I’d be willing to bet that 10% of fans at many Yankee games in the summertime are from outside the United States, but that doesn’t mean that people are driving from Japan to go see Derek Jeter.

  3. I’d bet that most of “came from outside Minnesota” means Hudson, WI, which for all intents and purposes is part of Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Spending $150 million (+ the yearly $1 million + police cost) is hardly worth attracting 100,000 people. Besides, everyone goes to Xcel.

  4. Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. Can’t the conventions, Limp Bizkit, and such just use Xcel? Why is it any skin off the state’s nose?

    PS I’m the Brian that posts here regularly, not the guy that made the first post.

  5. It’s hard to imagine how the area around the Target Center could generate more economic activity. If anything, it is quickly reaching a tipping point where the “destination” aspect of the area keeps out many locals on weekends (barring a great concert at First Ave, right across the street from Target Center).

    Block E, the massive development right across the street developed to take advantage of the Target Center (it’s got a skyway connecting the two) seems like it is always replacing tenants. Refurbishing the outside isn’t the key to fixing the Target Center. Getting a real team in there is the key (and to be to the Timberwolves, they are about 2 years away from having a team that would sell out every night).

  6. Neil

    I think if Limp Bizkit wants people from North Dakota, they would do a concert in Fargo or Grand Forks. In Minnesota, they would do Target Center, but they would get fans from the local area instead. Not that there is anything wrong with that. You were actually thinking more along the line of acts such as Bruce Springsteen, U-2, and the Rolling Stones. In that case, they would do several dates at Target Center or use Target Field, the Metrodome, or TCI.

  7. I’ve seen 3 concerts in the Target Center. If they really wanted to do something to enhance the concert-going experience, they’d upgrade damn acoustics.

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