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Official Review by Jared Townsend, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When the Target Center in Minneapolis opened in October of 1989, it was part of a four-pronged effort to expand the NBA. Along with the new hometown team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, other expansion franchises included the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and the Charlotte Hornets. However, unlike the other cities, Minneapolis had experienced pro basketball before. Around 40 years prior, the Minneapolis Lakers had left town and headed for Los Angeles, depriving the state of a championship-winning franchise that had accomplished five titles between the years 1949 and 1954. In California, the Lakers would continue their success - achieving 6 more titles before Minnesota even had the chance to land a new team. So, when professional basketball finally returned to the area, the question then became: Would Minnesota be able to live up to its winning past? Since the team played its first season at Target Center, the answer has been mixed. The Kevin Garnett era brought numerous playoff appearances, and a Finals appearance in 2004; even seeing the Wolves lose to the team they had replaced in Minnesota, the Lakers.
Target Center without a doubt has seen its share of excitement over the years, but the Timberwolves have yet to reach the pinnacle of success they still hope to achieve. However, with a young squad that now includes the likes of Karly-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Ricky Rubio, perhaps they’re getting closer. Additionally, an ongoing renovation that aims to revitalize the 20-thousand seat arena could set the stage for many exciting moments to behold in the future.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food is good, but can be somewhat pricey. I would highly recommend the pulled pork sandwich ($11), with other options including the brisket sandwich ($11), and the chicken or turkey sandwich ($11). And for $1 extra, you can add slaw or cheese on top. Elsewhere, you'll find the triple B burger made of ground bacon ($14) and the firehouse burger made of ground jalapenos.
Some of your more basic choices include chicken tenders ($10), cheese curds ($7), and french fries ($6.25).
Other highlights you can find throughout the arena include the steak sandwich, grilled pork chop, burgers from Fastburger, smoked cheddarwurst sausage, pizza by the slice from Freshcetta Pizza, pulled pork Mexican-style nachos with pico, and chicken or pork burritos.
Target Center is great in that it provides a wide variety of beer options including popular beers from local breweries. For $10.25, you'll find Lift Bridge Farm Girl, Lift Bridge Hop Dish, Bauhaus Wonderstuff, Summit EPA, Summit Saga, Bent Brewstillary Nicked, Bent Brewstillary Nordic Blonde, and Social Cider Werks. For less expensive ($8.25), you can get Grainbelt Nordeast or Premium. Meanwhile, higher priced beers ($11.25) include Fulton Sweet Child of Vine, Fulton Lonely Blonde, Surly Furious, and Day Tripper.
The arena's concourses are outdated and not the prettiest, but should drastically improve once the 2017 renovation is wrapped up. Courtside and throughout the stands is where the arena excels most. Also, it's really hard to get a bad seat in the building, and views are further enhanced by a visually impressive scoreboard that features screens on all four sides. Stands selling memorabilia and jerseys are available for throughout the concourses, but it appears Target Center still lacks one centralized team store such as what you'd find at Target Field or even The TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota.
Inside the arena, you'll note all the banners celebrating all the recent success of the Minnesota Lynx which include five conference championships and three WNBA titles, all of which were accomplished in the last seven years. It seems like every year the Lynx contend for a title - which generates quite the excitement in the Twin Cities (the Lynx arrived at Target Center in 1999).
Target Center is situated right by Target Field, one of the MLB's premiere venues. It's also obviously in downtown Minneapolis, so there are plenty of places worthy of visiting nearby. Downtown Minneapolis provides a very good skyway system, partly because it can be way too cold to walk around downtown during the winter. So if you're visiting the area for a game, I recommend using the skyway system to make it to and from other attractions.
There are lots of great food options in the area that are perfect for visiting before and after games. An obvious choice is the Loon Cafe, a place that is known for its chili and provides a sports-friendly atmosphere. You can also check out Huberts Sports Bar & Grill, known mostly for entrees such as pizza, burgers, and wings. Meanwhile, if you're in the mood for Irish, O'Donovan's excels at providing a great pub atmosphere. And last but not least, Gluek's Restaurant and Bar is a worthy visit, noted for its German beer.
Fans have reason to be excited. Although the team isn't winning as many games as they'd like, it's hard to be pessimistic. You'll hear fans energetically cheer whenever Karl-Anthony Towns or Andrew Wiggins make a play, and Ricky Rubio is still a fan favorite. Despite overall team struggles, games are pretty well attended, and it's always interesting to see fans sport throwback 1990's-style Kevin Garnett Wolves jerseys from his first run with the team (1995-2007).
Access is great and garage parking that's intended for both Target Center and Target Field is quite plentiful. You can also get to Target Center from other parts of downtown by walking the skyway. Meanwhile, another option is to use the Twin Cities light rail system (Metro Transit), which will take you right where you need to go.
Getting in and out of the arena gates is a breeze, and I suspect that will further improve once the renovation is complete.
Tickets are pretty affordable and easy to come by. However, it really depends on the opponent. Tickets probably average $20 online, but if you're trying to find tickets to watch the Wolves play a contender like Golden State, Cleveland, or San Antonio, you can expect to pay a pretty penny more.
The arena in its current form is also not big on amenities. I remember previously attending a game in 2014 before the renovation was underway, and they had an area where you could compare your hand size to that of the players on the team (pretty fun). That's no longer there, but once the latest renovation is complete, I expect return on investment to be much better. Otherwise, it's still really fun to watch the up and coming talent on the Wolves as they begin to improve their chemistry through players such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Ricky Rubio - the latter of whom is always rumored to be under trade consideration, yet the Wolves always seem to keep him.
Target Center features a green roof that I'm not sure many people even know about. During the harsh Midwest winters, it's often covered in ice and snow, but during the lush summers, it looks really green - something you can see if you go up to the top of Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis. The goal with the plant-covered roof is to mitigate storm water runoff and improve overall air quality in the city. Upon its installation in 2009, Target Center became the first arena in the country to feature a roof of this kind. Additionally, Target Center serves as quite the concert venue having hosted concerts featuring artists such as Paul McCartney.
It's important to remember that Target Center is very much in transition. An ongoing $128 million renovation will ultimately see a number of big changes to the arena including a new 5-story atrium, remodeled concession stands, more views of the downtown area, a revamp of the exterior siding, a redone suite level, and more. Ultimately, the changes should bring Target Center up to par and more in line with the excellence provided by its adjacent and much younger neighbor, Target Field.
Even in its pre-renovation form, Target Center still provides a great atmosphere for basketball. The court, of course, is the epicenter, and the stands generate much energy. The Wolves may not be getting as many W's as they'd like, but with the arrival of Karl-Anthony Towns, paired with other young talents such as Andrew Wiggins, there's much to be hopeful for. I have a feeling Target Center's best days are yet to come.
Member Review by paul
Twenty years ago, the Target Center opened its doors and provided fans with a great downtown facility to watch professional basketball. After playing its inaugural season down the road at the Metrodome, the Timberwolves played the 1990-91 season at the Target Center, posting a 29-53 record.
There have been eight playoff appearances and one division title in the franchise's existence, but frankly the Target Center has been less about the quality of the team on the floor, and more about the location. Now, more than ever, with the opening of the Twins' Target Field, the Timberwolves are located in the middle of a great downtown, with everything one would need to have for an enjoyable evening. Now, the only thing that's missing is some winning basketball. A minor detail.
Member Review by Scott Bultman on Dec 08, 2012
Target Center in downtown Minneapolis opened in 1990 and is home to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves are in their 25th season of existence; you are reminded of this from the commemorative ticket stubs to various signs and billboards around the stadium. This 19,500 seat arena offers plenty to do for the family and there isn’t a bad seat for a basketball game. Located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, there is plenty to do inside and outside.
Member Review by scottb_1980 on Jan 05, 2014
This building is pretty much built with the same premise as the Metrodome: see a game and get out. No bells or whistles, expensive food, and an unwelcoming concourse. Lots of concrete on the outer edges of the stadium. Two things I like about it... cheap tickets due to lack of fans and no bad seats in the building. The promotions team tries hard and keep your attention during timeouts. My favorite is the eating challenges that they do as mentioned in this review. The last game I went to, they had a fruitcake eating challenge. A 1.5 pound fruitcake that had to be eaten before the end of the quarter.
Member Review by bcbenzel on Apr 07, 2015
When it comes to quality places to see sporting events, the Twin Cities have you covered. The Xcel Energy Center is consistently ranked as one of the top arena experiences in the National Hockey League, Target Field is one of the gems of Major League Baseball and the Minnesota Vikings’ new football mecca will be arriving within a few years. The stadium that consistently gets overlooked, however, is the home of the Minnesota Timberwolves – the Target Center. Even I regularly turn my nose up at the building, having called it a dump on more than one occasion. But is that criticism warranted? Certainly, it is the oldest of the professional stadiums in the Twin Cities and is in desperate need of updates, but have I been too hard on the Target Center? That’s the question I was looking at when I paid the building a visit.
700 North 1st Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
80 9th St S
Minneapolis, MN 55402
600 N 1st Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403