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Target Center renovation: How to pay for it remains a mystery

With Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor at his side, Mayor R.T.

With Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor at his side, Mayor R.T. Rybak promised today that Minneapolis property taxpayers would not be burdened further — but offered no specific method of payment — for a proposed $155 million renovation of city-owned Target Center.

The renovation plan — backed by Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson, the Minneapolis Downtown Council and the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce — includes, among other things, integrating the arena with nearby Target Field, adding a restaurant that overlooks the Twins ballpark, renovating concessions areas and restrooms, making the building more architecturally appealing and adding key revenue-producing upgrades for the team and other events that are staged there.

Those improvements include upscale “clubs’’ for fans and ticket buyers and a food court.

For the official project website go here.

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But Rybak was asked about the costs of such a renovation with so many other city and state needs.

He said such a renovation was, indeed, “aggressive,” but he also called it “practical,” filled with “Minnesota values” and said it would extend the life of the arena.

“Sure, we could sit back and wait” until the 21-year-old building was older and more tired, he said. But if the city, the NBA team and AEG, the arena management company, didn’t come forth now with a proposal, he or others would be back at a lectern in a few years asking for a new arena, the mayor said.

“What we are doing here is unique in most American sports situations,” Rybak said, meaning a refurbishing, rather than a replacement at a much higher cost.

Still, just how the project would be funded remained the day’s mystery. Timberwolves owner Taylor, presumably, would be involved, but no percentage of his investment was announced.

“We’re just beginning those conversations,” the mayor said.

One issue sure to be emphasized, as the city, Wolves and AEG inevitably — and soon — shop this idea at the Legislature, is the statewide and regional nature of the building: 37 percent of the tickets to Target Center events, they said today, are purchased by customers outside the metro area.

The Target Center fixup joins the Vikings’ efforts for a new stadium, the desire of St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center to see some debt relief and the proposal for a new St. Paul Saints stadium in downtown St. Paul in the sports facilities folder to land on the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton’s desks.