After two and a half years of talking about renovations for Target Center, the Minneapolis City Council on Tuesday approved a $100 million reconstruction program for the venue, with another $50 million in capital improvements to come in the years ahead.
“There are times to save and times to invest, and in a wonderful way this does both,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak. He noted that the renovations are not directly paid for with property tax revenue and that the city will move ahead in partnership with the Minnesota Timberwolves and AEG, which manages the facility.
The immediate renovations will begin by late spring, with Minneapolis contributing $48.5 million. The Timberwolves will contribute $43 million, and AEG will contribute $5.7 million.
The city will sell $98 million in general obligation bonds and be reimbursed by the Timberwolves and AEG.
The remaining Minneapolis portion would come from the same tax pool that will be used to finance the Vikings stadium. That revenue comes from a citywide sales tax, a hotel tax and downtown tax on liquor and restaurant tabs.
“We have leveraged about $50 million in private investment here, which is a really good thing because we could be in a situation where that number would be zero,” said Rybak. Both the Timberwolves and Lynx basketball teams have extended their contracts by 18 years, committing them to play at Target Center until 2032.
The largest portion of the renovation money, $27.2 million, will be spent on public spaces, with $16 million in technology updates and $13 million for a new outside shell and signage.
“This is a building that we own, regardless of my feelings about how this came about,” said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden. “I think we need to stay true to our obligations and seek the best remedy. We are taking pro-active action, rather than kicking the can down the road.”
Glidden said the reason negotiations on the project took so long was because the city “drove a tough bargain.”
“For those of us who voted against the Vikings stadium, both on principle and in regard to the charter amendment, as well as the fact that it wasn’t a good deal, this was a sweetener and an enhancement,” said Council Member Lisa Goodman.
Next comes the project’s detailed planning phase, which is expected to last six months. Construction is not expected to begin until the Timberwolves’ season ends.
“We’re interested in the amenities our fans are going to experiences, gathering places, places of community, improved food and beverage options and club spaces,” said Ted Johnson, chief marketing officer for the Timberwolves, following the vote.
The renovations will include a new skyway connection to parking ramps, new bathrooms, a new box office and a seating design that surrounds the basketball court.
Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months, with the expectation that the teams can continue using the facility throughout.