Calling it a “sensible” solution to keeping Target Center competitive, Mayor R.T. Rybak and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor unveiled a $155 million plan Feb. 1 to renovate the 21-year-old arena.
Rybak said the renovation would be a public-private partnership, with the city, state and Timberwolves chipping in. He said the parties have not figured out who will pay what, but he did say that no city property tax dollars would go toward the renovation.
The Target Center hosts 200 events per year, about 25 percent of which are Minnesota Timberwolves games. The arena is the fourth oldest of 30 NBA facilities.
The city owns Target Center and is in the midst of a 10-year, $50 million commitment to maintain the facility, money that is used for regular maintenance but would not be used for the renovation.
“[Minnesotans] are people who recognize that to make a building continue to be competitive, you have to make ongoing investments,” Rybak said.
The outside of the building would get a major overhaul, replacing a mostly concrete exterior with glass. Included is a new main lobby with a glass atrium on the corner of 1st Avenue and 6th Street.
Another priority is integrating the arena with Target Field and the Target Plaza between them. Another glass atrium lobby would be placed at 2nd Avenue and 6th Street.
New fan amenities include a more open skyway level, a new food court, new club seats and renovated concourses, concession stands and bathrooms. A new restaurant would overlook Target Plaza.
The locker rooms would also be renovated.
Taylor said he would have preferred a brand new stadium, but he called this plan a prudent one for taxpayers during a tough economic climate.
“We have the opportunity now, at a reasonable investment, to bring it up to date with new technologies and all the things that our fans would expect from us,” he said.
Officials several times repeated the return on investment at the Target Center, saying that the original $7.3 million state contribution 21 years ago has generated $120 million in state sales, income and liquor taxes.
Democrats pick Charlotte over Minneapolis
The city’s bid to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention fell short, as Charlotte, N.C., was picked as the city where President Barack Obama will likely be re-nominated for his party’s endorsement.
Minneapolis was a finalist for the bid, along with St. Louis and Cleveland.
Mayor R.T. Rybak said he got a call from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine when the decision was announced Feb. 1.
“[Former Virginia] Gov. Kaine called and said great things about this community but just simply that [Charlotte] was a decision that was politically a better choice,” Rybak said.
Obama won North Carolina in 2008 by about 14,000 votes. He won Minnesota handily, even though Republicans held their convention in St. Paul.
Rybak was disappointed by the decision, but ready to market Minneapolis for other major events.
“I spent 12 minutes licking my wounds and got right back on the phone and said let’s go compete for the next one,” he said.
What’s the next one?
Rybak said he and other officials are competing for the MLB All-Star Game at Target Field and the American Society of Association Executives convention. The Twin Cities was recently selected to host the 2015 National Senior Games.
“I want to compete for every big event that takes place around the country, because we are a major host,” Rybak said. “This community is a good host, we’ve proven we can do some big things.”
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