City Council approves deal for Target Center renovation

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November 12, 2013 // UPDATED 5:29 pm - November 12, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

The City Council signed off on a nearly $100 million deal to renovate Target Center earlier today.

The agreement calls for the City of Minneapolis to pay $48.5 million, the Timberwolves and the Lynx to pay $43 million and AEG to pay $5.5 million.

The city has owned the 23-year-old Target Center since 1995. AEG manages the building.

Rybak praised the deal before the Council voted to approve the renovation project, calling it a “pragmatic” solution that will lower property taxes and extends the city’s relationships with the Timberwolves, Lynx and AEG, which now have leases at the facility through 2032.

“We could have been in this alone without partners,” he said.

City leaders have also pledged to create a $50 million capital improvement fund for Target Center to keep the facility competitive.

The mayor has often cited the stadium legislation as a key factor in making the renovation of Target Center possible because it gave the city more control of sales and hospitality taxes and allowed them to be used for other purposes besides the Convention Center.

Former Council President Paul Ostrow, who is now the Anoka County Assistant Attorney, challenged that premise in a letter he sent to City Council members Nov. 7.

He noted that the city already had the authority to use sales tax revenues for economic development projects because of changes to state law in 2009 authored by state Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-60A).

“There are strong arguments for moving ahead with the Target Center renovation.  Unlike the outsized investment in the Vikings stadium, there is a reasonable return on the city’s investment,” he wrote. “What is missing from this discussion and most glaringly was missing from the Vikings stadium discussion is any consideration of alternative investments available to the city with these funds.”

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) referenced Ostrow’s letter when she disputed a point raised by Council Member Diane Hofstede (3rd Ward) who suggested the Target Center renovation couldn’t have happened without the stadium legislation.

Goodman, who was one of six Council members who voted against the stadium financing deal in May, said the city has always had the ability to finance the Target Center renovation, it just wasn’t politically feasible until now. Goodman’s ward includes the Target Center. At a Nov. 8 Council committee meeting she said the facility has a big impact on other businesses in the Warehouse District.

“Really what we are doing is the most environmentally friendly thing anyone could do for a sports facility in the nation, which is invest in and reuse the one that we have,” she said. “… When this building is sitting dark much of downtown is dark, and when this facility is filled, restaurants, businesses, clubs and retail thrive around it. These small businesses — more than anything else — are the employment base of our city.”

City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward) also spoke in favor of the deal before today's vote.

“I was not someone who was a fan of the Vikings stadium [deal.] That was a difficult time for us as a Council to talk about that,” she said. “This is a very different project. This is a building that we own. … We need to stay true to our obligations and seek the best remedy. I really think this is  a solution that other communities around the country should take note of.”

The renovation will include a redesign of Target Center’s exterior, additional seating for concerts, new meeting spaces and an improved lobby area, among other things.

Design work will begin later this year and construction work will start next year and take 18 to 24 months to complete.

Glen Taylor, majority owner of the Timberwolves and Lynx, applauded the deal.

“I appreciate the City Council approving our project. They have been great partners and I look forward to continuing our strong relationship,” Taylor said. “Now we can look to the future to provide the next generation of Timberwolves and Lynx fans a first-class experience.”