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Target Center (map it)
600 North 1st Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Year Opened: 1990
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Fans can attend a Timberwolves game knowing that they will get a pretty good experience no matter what section they are in. Without another primary tenant—the Minnesota Wild play in the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul—there are not any funky sight lines for basketball. Although the arena, which was built in 1990 and renovated in 2004, has a capacity of over 19,000 there is not a bad seat in the house.
When the Vikings open their new stadium, the Target Center will be the oldest major league venue in the Twin Cities, but it still offers a good fan experience.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food at the Target Center is on the pricey side.
Your stadium basics are in the $6 range while baskets are $8. Specials like a Cuban sandwich go as high as $12. A teetotaler can spend as little as $3.50 for a Pepsi product ($5 for a large), but a fan looking to drink alcoholic beverages may leave the game with a thin wallet. Domestic beers run about $8.50 and specialty drinks go as high as $12.
Fortunately, there are a lot of options for people willing to spend. In addition to the run-of-the-mill offerings, there are meat-carving stations and other unique food stands throughout the arena. Cost for a meal ranges anywhere from $9 to $12. There is also a full-service bar in the concourses for fans without access to the Backcourt Club. Prices are in a similar $9 - $12 range.
On December 7, 2012 the Minnesota Timberwolves contest against the Cavaliers marked the opening of the UV Vodka Backcourt Club. Introduced midseason, the club features flashing colored lights, subwoofers belting out bass that make Barry White sound high pitched and enough vodka to keep Russia inebriated for a decade.
The club is a new offering for fans with courtside or luxury box seating.
The first thing that stands out in the Target Center is the giant jumbotron at center court. An amendment to the arena during the 2004 renovation, it has four clear, large screens that offer a panoramic view of the action on the court. Most pertinent information about the game can be found above the screen or is otherwise clearly displayed in various locations around the arena.
During the introductions, the arena goes dark and there is an opening video with highlights from recent games. While it may not be entirely unique, it does enough to energize the crowd for the beginning of the game.
There is a promotions man that can be seen on the jumbotron with a microphone at various places in the arena and does various gimmicks to get the crowd involved. This includes anything from standing on the court before the game and asking the crowd to "get loud" to asking a loyal fan to dress up like a reindeer and chug an entire Nalgene bottle full of eggnog for a Klondike bar.
While you may be able to find similar promotions at other arenas around the league, they are effective and well executed at the Target Center.
There are many bars, restaurants and hotels located walking distance from the arena and plenty of nightlife that can be enjoyed after the game. For people just going downtown to attend the game, they can park in many nearby ramps and use the skyways to avoid traffic and cold weather while walking to the game.
In short, if you drive to the game, you can leave your car in a parking ramp that is easily accessible from the freeway and find good food and cold beer before and after the game without ever having to move your vehicle.
Most people in the northern part of Minnesota are die-hard hockey fans, but as you get closer to the border of Iowa a lot of residents have a passion for the hard court. In the cities you'll find many people that are fans of both sports.
Even with the passion for basketball in the south, however, Minnesota is predominantly a hockey market and the University of Minnesota basketball team draws a significant portion of the basketball-loving crowd packing Williams Arena for college basketball games.
While there are many fans of the professional game in the Twin Cities, this is also one of the most tortured fan bases in the NBA. Aside from a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2004, the Kevin Garnett-era team was a perennial one-and-done in the playoffs.
The team has yet to make the playoffs since Garnett's departure to Boston.
Minnesota sold out at the height of the Rubio-Love mania last season, but waned after the team temporarily lost both players to injury.
A matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers (the opponent for this review) isn't particularly intriguing and there were a lot of unsold tickets in the upper deck and large patches of empty seats in the lower bowl. Having said that, the T-Wolves Army behind the western hoop was deceptive enough to get a Cleveland player to shoot a desperate shot before the shot clock actually expired and were loud throughout the course of a relatively meaningless contest. Furthermore, the fans in attendance were loud and proud and provided a strong presence even though the game was not sold out.
Located in downtown Minneapolis next to First Avenue and Target Field, the Target Center is accessible from all the major freeways in the metro area. As mentioned above, there are parking ramps that offer skyways to the arena for fans that want to avoid the cold weather.
There are also many other places to park near enough to the arena that the trek through the arctic tundra is brief and relatively painless.
The concourses get a little packed during peak times, but seating sections, bathrooms and food are all clearly market with various signs around the arena.
An inspired buyer can find Wolves tickets for as cheap as $8 and as much as $300-$400 online for an individual game. Season ticket holders get discounted parking, their own line at food vendors and access to the new Backcourt Club.
The ticket prices are pretty reasonable, but the cost of the food is rather high. To get the best return on the investment, a group of fans may want to consider eating at home or at one of the local restaurants if they wish to cut costs.
The Backcourt Club at court level and full service bar in the concourse are nice amenities for people of the drinking age and, as long as you're willing to open up your wallet, the food at Target Center rivals everything else in the league.
Additionally, the team has a custom-made music video that is played after the third quarter of the game. Seeing Kevin Love mouth "I love you" is perhaps the highlight of my time as a Timberwolves fan.
The Target Center is a nice venue to watch a basketball game.
For a fan of the team, game or even a specific visiting player, they will enjoy their experience at the arena. Although it is one of the oldest venues in the Twin Cities, it still offers an experience similar to that of other arenas throughout the league.
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.
700 North 1st Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
80 9th St S
Minneapolis, MN 55402
600 N 1st Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403