Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges was among the officials on hand for a ceremony Wednesday at the outset of Target Center renovations. She swung a golden sledgehammer as part of a symbolic demolition of an area that will become the new West Club in the building, which is getting $100 million worth of improvements. (She wanted to keep the sledgehammer, which I totally would have wanted, too. And she did get to keep it).
I wrote more about the entire renovation project here, and I had a chance to ask Hodges a few questions after the event was finished — both about Target Center and the debate over a new soccer stadium. Minneapolis was a contender to get a new facility near Target Field for Minnesota United’s move to Major League Soccer, but St. Paul ended up getting the deal.
Here are the questions and answers with Hodges on those subjects:
Q When you look at the upkeep on Target Center, it was kind of next in line with all the other beautiful sports facilities in Minneapolis. How important was it to keep it in line with Target Field and the new Vikings stadium?
A It was important to keep it in line with all the other facilities in the city. … But also, we have some competitors in the region and we want to make sure we’re a world-class facility for world-class teams and events. It’s really important to stay competitive and almost rebuild this place from the ground up for the future.
Q When you think about all that has been built over the years and compare the sports facilities back when the Timberwolves started, do you get the sense that we’re overbuilt or are we properly built in this area?
A We certainly have facilities that have world-class teams in them. The Target Center is a unique building in that the city just owns it. The people of Minneapolis own it. To be competitive and to make sure that we are doing what we need to do, we need to make sure this facility is as up-to-date and as future-oriented as we can make it.
Q There was a discussion for a while that there might be one more stadium here in Minneapolis — a soccer stadium for Major League Soccer (which instead is slated to be built in St. Paul). Are you OK with how that all played out?
A You know, there are huge opportunities for investment right here in Minneapolis for us, and I think as time goes on we’re going to be taking those opportunities to the benefit of the city. Would soccer be great in the city of Minneapolis? Absolutely, it would be. But to have been asked to sacrifice all tax revenue from those sites that I know are going to have development in the future was asking too much.