Among the aesthetic changes to Target Center fans will notice when they see games or highlights on TV are tarps covering the seats with sponsors' logos on them, video boards behind each bench to supplement the broadcast — and cars.
Specifically four cars, all Lexus models, two behind each basket in conjunction with a sponsorship the franchise has with the automaker.
Going into Wednesday's opener, it had been more than nine months since the Wolves played a game. The franchise had the chance to study how other sports and the NBA in its Orlando bubble handled the chores of creating an atmosphere that will translate in the arena for players and coaches while also providing a palatable viewing experience for fans at home.
Chief operating officer Ryan Tanke said for the last six weeks a team of people worked tirelessly to set up the new-look Target Center and pull off what they wanted to do in compliance with NBA protocols.
"The amount of work that has gone into that nobody will ever know about is outrageous, and that's kind of the point ..." Tanke said. "Aesthetically we purposely held back [in the preseason] so we can have a nice opening night release."
The video boards, the cars and the tarps are among the most noticeable visual changes, but the Wolves have also been tweaking how they will add sound to the arena.
There are four sets of speakers in the corners above the lower bowl with music coming through them, as there is during non-pandemic times. But two audio engineers have the task of piping the crowd noise from a library of over 1,600 sound cues the league provided.
Sheridan West, Senior Manager of Game Entertainment, said there are a few different types of automated crowd noises in that library: an ambient noise that acts as white noise in the arena, anticipatory for potential key moments in the game, and reaction sounds for big baskets or moments that may not go the Wolves' way.
"That was a big finding from the bubble was making it feel as realistic as possible on the court for the guys," West said.
West said the team can increase or decrease the sound as it chooses, so it may sound louder in the fourth quarter of a tight game, and it can pump up the volume to around 90 or 100 decibels — about the sound of a lawn mower or motorcycle.
"A lot of that depends on the flow of the game as well, just feeling out the game," West said.
Tanke said on normal Wolves game days there are about 500 employees working. He estimated there would only be about 100-125 working Wednesday night. About 55 of those, he said, had to have at least two successive days of negative coronavirus tests before being able to work because of their proximity to players and coaches.
Those workers must come to Target Center in the mornings two days before and the day before games. There are also about a dozen employees in that pool who get tested and serve as potential substitute workers for others in case there are positive tests among those expected to work a game.
Those employees include some security staff, cleaning crew and those who help operate the game from the sidelines.
"It's all designed to make sure we keep the safety of the players and the folks inside of that space contained," Tanke said.
Like most teams, the Wolves are beginning the season without fans. The hope, Tanke said, is at some point this season the Wolves will get to increase capacity. That first step would begin with 150 friends and family of the team, then possibly up to 1,400 people in the lower bowl, Tanke said.
"We think that would be a natural next step," Tanke said. "Certainly masks and social distancing are going to be a thing throughout the entirety of this season. So we've done a lot of work just to prepare for what that might look like."
Which means the look inside Target Center may change throughout the season.