The free advice offered to the Twins as they started construction of a new ballpark was this: Make the exterior multi-colored painted bricks, in the style of Met Stadium.
“This will recall the excitement when the Twins first arrived on our prairie, and also the glory of that first decade in the major leagues,’’ I said. “It will be great.’’
The advice was dismissed out of hand.
Target Field went with a limestone theme, outside and in, and in retrospect it probably was a classier look than painted bricks.
Across the plaza from the ballpark, there is a $140 million remodeling being completed at Target Center, the arena that opened in 1990 with the then common idea of having several thousand more seats upstairs than down.
As part of the remodeling, there is a dark-brown covering made to look like wood being attached to the exterior. It’s not done yet, but my observation on Wednesday was that they should have stuck with the two light shades of concrete that have marked the building for 27 years.
Let’s face it: That’s not much of a budget -- $140 million and change – to improve an arena with this age, and the dollars spent covering the concrete could have been spent more productively elsewhere, I’d guess.
Plus, the new exterior could be confusing. The sole run of glory for the Timberwolves came and went in 2004, without an ensuing playoff appearance – meaning, it’s been so long since most members of the sporting public have been to Target Center to see the Wolves that they could walk right by the place, looking for the trademark concrete.
The good news is that looking at the remodeling of the actual team from the outside is more impressive.
The final major piece in Tom Thibodeau’s roster manipulation was introduced on Wednesday in a low-key press gathering: Jamal Crawford, the 37-year-old guard who was first added to the NBA on the night of the 2000 draft at Target Center.
He was taken No. 8 by Charlotte, then immediately traded to Chicago for No. 7 selection Chris Mihm. The Wolves were hosting the draft but didn’t have a first rounder due a trade for Bobby Jackson and Dean Garrett.
That also was a couple of months before Xcel Energy Center opened in St. Paul and the Twin Cities learned that a decade had made quite a change in arena architecture, and for the benefit of customers.
Thibodeau had a blasé first season in charge of the Timberwolves, but he has followed that disappointment by bringing in Jimmy Butler through a trade, and Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and now Crawford as free agents.
The starters will be Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, Butler and Teague, with Gibson up front and Crawford as the shooter off the bench. That’s seven deep in strong NBA talent, and Nemanja Bjelica could make it eight were he stay healthy for a season.
The rest of the roster currently consists of Cole Aldrich, Tyus Jones and Justin Patton, the No. 1 draft choice. On Wednesday, Patton could be seen pushing himself around a skyway on a medical scooter, with his left leg folded and with a walking boot.
There was no more Timberwolves’ thing than the recent day when the team issued a release announcing Patton’s signing, followed a half-hour later with a release that Patton had undergone surgery to repair a broken foot.
Timberwolves followers thought they might be done talking about big men with bad feet with the final buyout to the wonderful, wounded bear, Nikola Pekovic, and then his replacement, the rookie, doesn’t make it to Summer League without a bad foot.
This has to change, right? Everything that can go wrong can’t continue to go wrong for one franchise.
OK, the Wolves have brought most of it on themselves, but when you go out and get Butler, a star, and Teague, a well-regarded point guard, and add noble veterans such as Gibson and Crawford – and you already have Towns and Wiggins – it has to work, right?
The silliest thing we’ve been hearing is that Golden State can’t be touched for the next several years, so a team such as the Wolves might as well have kept adding young talent until the next decade, when the Warriors could be vulnerable.
Guaranteeing the future with any athletic team – even in a league as imbalanced and star-dominated as the NBA – is ridiculous. Basketball players break a foot on occasion. Kevin Durant played 27 games in 2014-15 after bone graft surgery in his right foot.
You can’t spend 13 years outside the playoffs, get players with the talent of Towns and Wiggins, and say, “We’re going to keep building.’’
This isn’t about a championship window. This is about getting back into the competitive mix. There’s too much energy in the NBA – people even take notice of Summer League – to continue as complete bystanders.
The new wood-like exterior and improved concessions aren’t going to change the Wolves’ status. Butler, Teague, Gibson and Crawford will do so, as long as the luck switches even a touch.