Hartman: Target Field Station more than transit hub

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 15, 2014 - 12:41 AM

The station, having its grand opening Saturday, will help the Twins and feature many special amenities.

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New transit maps showed the network of lines both existing and under construction at the Target Field Station.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, STAR TRIBUNE FILE

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Saturday is a big day, with the grand opening of Target Field Station, a transit hub that will be a big part of Twins baseball and make it easier for fans to get to Target Field, taking place before that night’s game against the Seattle Mariners.

“We called it the interchange, now it’s Target Field Station,” Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said. “There’s going to be kind of a celebration from 1-6 [p.m.] and then onto the Twins ballgame that night. What it is is a second platform that we’re adding to the LRT [light-rail transit] system at Target Field. We had so many riders using LRT for Hiawatha and on June 14, we’re opening up the Central Corridor, the Green Line to St. Paul.

“So we need more platform capacity, more room for people to line up, and on top of those transit improvements, we’ve added a plaza, an amphitheater and some other features that are going to make this a great center for public gathering 365 days a year.”

Twins President Dave St. Peter said he believes Target Field Station will be a big plus for the team.

With its convenience for Twins fans and the central location of the hub, McLaughlin said the station will be the busiest transit location in the state of Minnesota.

“There will be over 475 trains coming in and leaving each and every business day,” he said. “There are 1,800 buses within a block-and-a-half walk, so this is the biggest transit hub in the whole Twin Cities area. When we get Southwest [LRT line] built, and I’m confident we will get it, and when we get Bottineau that will go up to Brooklyn Park, you’ll be able from that one spot right there to take a one-seat ride to every corner of the metro area on modern transit.”

McLaughlin explained the financing for the project, and said the Twins and other partners put in extra money to make it a more welcoming location.

“It cost about $80 million and on top of that the Twins, Target and United Properties put in an additional $4 million for a video board, some additional artwork, lighting and the like,” he said.

McLaughlin also was asked how the collection is going for the sales tax that is paying for Target Field. Is enough money being collected to pay what is necessary each year?

“Well, the sales tax was .15 percent, 15/1,000ths of a percent, and we are using that to pay off the ballpark,” McLaughlin said. “We’re also paying all the principal and interest, we’re on schedule on that. We’ve also paid off over $40 million on bonds early because the revenues have been coming in so strongly. So we’ve retired them early, which is going to reduce the cost.

“In addition to that, every year we have spent $2 million on expansion of library hours all over Hennepin County and another $2 million on youth sports facilities. I know in my district, we’ve helped build some baseball fields with the school system and the park board. We built much needed soccer fields that the park board really didn’t have the funds for. The financing for the ballpark has really been doing great. We kept faith with the public and we … will have invested $135 million in library hours and youth sports facilities on top of the ballpark.”

So McLaughlin said the city is exceeding their payment quotas, and the finances for paying off the stadium couldn’t be better.

Wolves for sale?

A report by Jonathan Marino in The Deal Magazine, a New York-based business transactions publication, reported that there has been bidder interest in buying the Timberwolves.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor couldn’t be reached, but Ted Johnson, the team’s chief marketing officer, was quoted as saying the Timberwolves are “fielding requests and entertaining requests,” but that no sale process is currently taking place.

Jottings

• After six home playoff games, Wild owner Craig Leipold has to feel good, with the club making money for the first time in several years and having the finances to sign Thomas Vanek, the great former Gophers player who is now with the Montreal Canadiens but will be a free agent after this season.

• The Wild finished the 2013-2014 season 12th in the NHL in attendance with an average of 18,505 fans per game — a little more than 103 percent of capacity for each home game, because of standing-room-only tickets being sold — and that percentage was good for sixth in the league. The Wild averaged 19,358 fans per game in the playoffs, which should drastically help their financial situation heading into the postseason.

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