“Happy birthday, and welcome back.”
Mayor Betsy Hodges and stadium officials recently cut the ribbon, opening the Target Center following an 18-month transformation to prepare the venue for another generation of basketball games and concerts.
The ceremony also served as a birthday party for the city-owned arena as it turns 27 this fall. Thanks to the approximately $145-million renovation, venue officials say the Target Center — one of the NBA’s oldest arenas prior to the project — is ready for decades of events.
“Like any 27-year-old, Target Center’s best days still lie ahead,” Hodges said.
The venue now boasts brown exterior paneling, a three-story glass atrium and a new Life Time Lobby at 6th & 1st. Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx will have a new skyway entrance when the Timberwolves begin playing this fall that will connect Target Center to nearby parking ramps. The team plays a sold-out season opener against the Utah Jazz on Oct. 20.
Inside the arena, the teams now have new premium spaces, such as the Chairman’s Club, Lexus Courtside Club, TCL Theater Boxes and Club T.I., in addition to a new premium level, the Treasure Island Resort & Casino Premium Level. There are new seats, a new scoreboard and a new food program.
Concessions at Target Center got an overhaul from Executive Chef David Fhima. The teams recently announced a new menu featuring a burger from Borough and Parlour, sushi burritos from SotaRol and a walleye sandwich from Lord Fletcher’s. Fhima, a longtime Twin Cities restaurateur, will have his own dedicated restaurant space called Fhima’s that will serve dishes like organic chicken tulips with gorgonzola sauce. Fhima will also have cookies through Mother Dough Bakery at dessert stations throughout Target Center. Life Time, which operates a fitness center in the venue’s basement, will have a Life Time Life Café serving tuna togarashi at games.
Other food partners include City Girl Coffee, Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery, Levy and Swanson’s, which will have its own presence through brands like Freschetta and Pagoda.
The teams, facility operator AEG and the City of Minneapolis funded the renovation, with $74 million or about half the cost coming from the city. Hodges said rehabilitating the city-owned venue extended its life by 20 years at just a quarter of the cost to construct a new arena. The teams estimate this saved $350 million.
“We did this the smart way — we didn’t tear down our arena like other cities have done. For a quarter of the cost of a full rebuild, we took the good bones we already had and invested smartly in renovations that will keep Target Center a great home for the Timberwolves and the WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx, a first-class venue for world-class entertainment, and a downtown jewel for years to come,” she said.
The roughly 20,000-capacity venue, built in 1990, is the sixth-busiest building in the world, holding nearly 200 large-crowd events for about 1 million people per year. Thanks to nearby parking ramps it sees approximately 12,000 people passing through each day.
Steve Mattson, Target Center vice president and general manager with AEG Facilities, said the complicated renovation required a public-private partnership.
“This gorgeous renovation has been years in the making; but in the end, we are all thrilled with the outcome and can’t wait to share it with our fans, sponsors and content providers,” he said.
Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson said it’s exciting to finally reopen the “reimagined” venue.
“We couldn’t be happier for all of our fans along with the millions of people who have shared a great experience or memorable moment here in this arena,” Casson said. “And we can’t wait for all the great memories that lie ahead as we welcome in a complete transformation our organization both on and off the court.”