Target Center gets facelift

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves have made significant enhancements to their roster this summer, and now improvements to their 13-year-old arena on the way, too.

Target Center will have a new scoreboard and new parquet-style playing surface in place for the Oct. 29 season opener against Milwaukee. The team has begun building a skyway-level store -- called "The Gym" -- that will sell Wolves and Lynx merchandise and open in early November, and a new video display board will be added to the northeast corner of the arena.

Owner Glen Taylor has committed more than $4 million to the project, and the City Council recently approved a deal to help finance a $14 million fund for further upgrades to the arena over the next few years.

Those could include new seats, renovated concourses and improvements to the building's acoustics for concerts.

"People always want something better and more exciting," Taylor said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference, where he was joined by Mayor R.T. Rybak and other team, arena, city and business officials.


The plan is a thinly veiled effort to keep up with St. Paul's flourishing Xcel Energy Center, which is attracting many of the major major music acts that come to town.

The Wolves, who've been eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs seven years running, have also seen their fan base fade since the Wild began playing at Xcel in 2000. The hockey club has sold out every game since it entered the NHL in 2000.

The Wolves' offseason moves, Rybak said, helped convince the city to negotiate with the team about enhancing the arena, which is operated by Clear Channel Entertainment.

"We recognized if we want to reposition Target Center," Rybak said, "we can't waste time."

The scoreboard will feature a resolution of 929 pixels per square foot. That's the most anywhere in the world, according to Purchase, N.Y-based ANC/SACO, the company supplying the board. It now will be viewable from virtually any angle or seat. A common complaint from ticket-holders near the court was that they couldn't see replays.

"The experience of the fan coming into this building will be totally different," said Jerry Cifarelli, ANC/SACO co-president.

The $14 million city contribution meets a legal obligation as owner of Target Center to make improvements to the facility. There's no set timetable for the further upgrades.

"I want things to move as fast as possible," Taylor said. "The difference is, now we feel comfortable that the city is moving with us."


Dave Campbell

Associated Press

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