The long-planned renovation of Minneapolis’ Target Center took a major step forward Monday, as city officials, the facility’s operator, and the owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx announced that they’ve agreed on a $97 million plan.
City leaders had been negotiating behind the scenes with the Minnesota Timberwolves and arena manager AEG for more than a year—and Twin Cities Business broke the news last month that the parties were nearing a roughly $100 million deal.
On Monday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak; City Council President Barbara Johnson; Timberwolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor; and AEG’s Steve Mattson, the Target Center’s general manager, said that they’ve reached an agreement, which must now be approved by the City Council.
The Target Center is 23 years old. While plans for a new $975 million Minnesota Vikings stadium have received significant attention, the legislation approving that stadium included a provision that allows the city to redirect some city sales tax revenue to pay for the Target Center facelift.
The agreement unveiled Monday calls for the city to pay $48.5 million—half the total cost of the renovation. The Timberwolves and Lynx will pay $43 million (44 percent), and AEG will cover the remaining $5.5 million (6 percent). That breakdown aligns with what officials had told Twin Cities Business in September.
In addition to footing half of the renovation costs, the deal also calls for the city to pay at least $50 million for ongoing improvements “to keep the facility competitive” over the life of the agreement, which expires in 2032, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
The Minneapolis City Council’s Committee of the Whole will hold an October 31 hearing on the proposal, and the council plans to vote on the deal on November 12.
If the plan is approved, the design process will occur later this year. The renovation, which is expected to take between 18 and 24 months, would begin in 2014.
City officials are touting the plan as an economic development project that will create 850 construction jobs. The Target Center hosts 200 events and 1 million visitors a year, creates $100 million in “economic impact,” and generates between $10 million and $15 million in state and local taxes each year, Rybak’s office said.
The groups behind the renovation deal also said that a $97 million renovation costs just a fraction of the $500 million that construction of a new “state-of-the-art arena” would demand.
The Target Center, which cost $104 million to build, opened in October 1990. The city acquired it in March 1995 for about $80 million when the team’s original owners, who also owned the arena, ran into financial trouble. The city's outstanding Target Center debt currently totals $50.4 million; that debt won't be affected by the renovation, as the city will continue paying it down via an existing financial plan, according to a city spokesman. Debt issued to fund the city's share of renovation costs would be incremental and paid back from local hospitality taxes made possible from the stadium legislation.
The nearly $100 million facelift includes a redesign of the Target Center’s exterior, increased seating capacity for concerts and other shows, more meeting spaces and clubs, and enhanced amenities, according to Rybak’s office. It will also provide “improved pedestrian flow.”
Under the terms of the deal, the Timberwolves and Lynx have also committed to remaining in the Target Center through 2032.
“The Timberwolves and Lynx have enjoyed a great partnership with the city throughout the years,” Taylor, owner of both teams, said in a statement. “I am proud of the work we did to reach this agreement and I am extremely pleased that we will be spending the next 20 years in Target Center.” (For an in-depth Twin Cities Business story on Taylor and his teams, click here.)
Once finalized, the deal announced Monday would also extend Lifetime Fitness' lease in the facility by an additional three years. Lifetime Fitness is renovating its club in the Target Center and recently signed a 12-year lease extension there.