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Target Center redo delayed; naming rights extended

A $129 million renovation of downtown Minneapolis’ Target Center is slated to begin later than previously expected, spanning from summer 2016 through much of 2017, project leaders announced Tuesday.

The timeline of the overhaul has been repeatedly pushed back — the official project website still lists a spring 2014 construction start date. Officials revealed Tuesday, the 25th anniversary of the arena’s opening, that the building will be closed to Minnesota Lynx games and concerts during the summer of 2017.

“I’d say we’re at 95 percent confidence that we’re going to meet this timeline,” Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Rob Moor said.

The renovation will cost of Minneapolis, which owns the building, about $74.5 million. The remaining funds will come from the Minnesota Timberwolves and operator AEG. The city’s obligation grew from about $50 million this March because of rising construction costs.

The renovation project will begin with a new scoreboard and acoustic improvements next summer. In late 2016, work will begin transforming the building’s concrete exterior into a more glassy, inviting facade. Other changes include larger loading docks, more club areas, smaller suites, improved public spaces and restrooms.

The arena’s overall seating capacity will not increase, but project leaders expect to add amenities that shift a number of seats into a higher price range. That includes food service stations with waiters delivering food to attendees.

“You might be now attached to a food and beverage amenity that we didn’t have before,” said Steve Mattson Target Center general manager. “You might be able to have valet [parking]. … That can take a $75 ticket to $100 in certain spots.”

As late as March, Timberwolves officials still hoped to begin the project in 2015 and complete it by fall 2016. Tuesday’s announcement was intended to represent a concrete timeline of construction, however.

“As we got into the design, we found that because it’s a renovation, it’s more complex,” Moor said. “So we all started this project off very enthusiastic that we were going to get it done sooner rather than later. And we were moving with I guess maybe a little too much enthusiasm, thinking we’d get it done.”

They also announced that a long-standing naming rights agreement with Target — one of the first for a professional sports arena — will be extended. Target and Timberwolves officials declined to release the terms or length of the agreement at a news conference Tuesday.

“I expect my son to grow up and have kids, and this will still be Target Center,” said Moor, adding that his son is 15.

That arena naming deal was reported in 1990 to be the third time that a corporate sponsor had bought the naming rights to an American pro-sports facility. Of those prior deals, only Carrier Dome in Syracuse, which opened in 1980, still bears the same name. The two other arenas, ARCO Arena in Sacramento, and Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif., have changed names.

The project has one final hurdle at City Hall, which is not expected to be controversial. The City Council must still vote on the maximum price of the project, which will represent their final sign-off on the renovation.

“Renovating Target Center, as opposed to tearing it down and building something new … is a sensible Minnesota solution,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said.

See construction schedule below. Click to view larger version.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

Minneapolis has a new downtown visitor center

For the first time in a decade, Minneapolis now has a visitor center in the heart of downtown.

Meet Minneapolis, the city’s marketing and tourism agency, opened its new visitor center and store Monday at the corner of Fifth Street and Nicollet Mall. The 5,000-square-foot facility is located in a corner of the CenterPoint Energy building, across the street from the Nicollet light-rail stop.

Officials said this winter that they wanted the new visitor’s center to be a space for musical performances, cooking demonstrations and other events, in addition to a place for people to get information about local happenings and pick up Minneapolis gear.

The shop offers clothing, jewelry and art by Minnesota artists, including a display of prints and pint glasses from artist Adam Turman, known for painting several murals around the city.

The visitor’s center is also the new home of Move Minneapolis, formerly known as the Commuter Connection. That operations provides information about commuting and carpooling, and offers transit passes and bicycling products.

Meet Minneapolis intends to eventually use the spot as a starting point for tours and as a “social media command center.” 

A grand opening event will be scheduled for December.

Photo: Meet Minneapolis.

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