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.
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There is a good variety of food and beverage at the Target Center but nothing unique. The prices are higher than the average NBA arena and adds up quickly if you have family with you. Most concession stands here have your basics: hot dogs/brats, burgers, and chicken sandwiches which run from $5.50 to $8.50 for a basket. I had the cheeseburger basket before the game. The burger was cooked medium well, the way I like it with an ample serving of fries. Snack items such as pretzels, popcorn, ice cream, and candy run from $3 to $5. There are plenty of workers or volunteers per stand so the lines always go quick. The arena serves Pepsi products which go from $5 for a small to $8.50 for a large. Like in other areas of the country, the craft beer scene in Minnesota is growing. You will find many local craft brew selections sold at concession stands around the arena. Domestic beer runs $8.50 while the craft beer and mixed drinks are in the $9-$12 range. There are a few vendors who work the stands during the game but they mostly have beer, soda, or snacks such as cotton candy.
For those who want the total VIP experience, there is the UV Backcourt Club which includes a DJ, premium food and drink offerings, and the chance to see the opposing team as they enter the arena. There are a couple other areas around the stadium to get high quality food without having to deal with the crowds but the tickets are courtside or suite level.
One of the best things about seeing a Timberwolves game is the in game timeout entertainment. There is a promotions team that works the floor with contests and games to keep people entertained. There is a trampoline dunk team that performs between the third and fourth quarters which the crowd loves. There are some contests such as a shooting contest, eating/soda drinking challenges, and various other games. My favorite promotion is the "what would you do for a Klondike bar" challenge. For this game, they had a Valentines kissing challenge. A couple had to hold a kiss pose for a quarter. There is a DJ who plays during timeouts and another DJ plays at the main entranceway leading into the arena.
The Timberwolves have been around .500 this 2013-2014 season which hasn't led to a big run on tickets. Weeknight games usually average 12,000-14,000 fans and weekend games usually get 16,000-18,000. The lower bowl is usually pretty full most nights but the upper deck is rarely ever full. The seats in the upper deck are unobstructed but the lighting is dim. Lower deck seats are close to the action. There are games for kids to play in the main entryway to the lower deck. The concourses can get crowded during halftime or at the end of each quarter but there is an even distribution of concession stands and souvenir stands to help alleviate foot traffic.
Target Center is located in the warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis. Located right in the heart of downtown, there are plenty of restaurants, bars/clubs, and shops nearby. There is a skyway system that goes through many downtown buildings meaning it is possible to park the car and never have to step foot outside while still enjoying what the city has to offer. For those looking to spend a full day downtown, there are plenty of options to do and see around the arena. There are a few concert venues in the area that have shows nearly every night. Target Field is a block north of the arena and offers tours on select days.
There are plenty of restaurant options around Target Center with varying prices. Kierans Irish Pub has a lively pregame scene with good food options directly across the street from the arena. Huberts is located in the same building and has an entrance into the arena from the restaurant. The downtown area has plenty of places to go for a pregame drink or food. Most restaurants are within walking distance of the arena but as with any downtown area, use caution when venturing too far off the beaten path.
The lack of Timberwolves winning history coupled with hockey being the sport of choice in Minnesota can lead to an uninspired crowd at times. Minnesotans are big supporters of their sports teams; any newcomer gets the feeling that the Wolves are fourth in line as far as pro sports go in MN. The crowd gets more into the game when a winning team comes here.
One unique cheer during the games is the Timberwolves howl when opposing teams are at the foul line. There is a piped in howling sound for a few seconds and the crowd picks up on it and does it. For those who want to be part of a fun stadium experience, the Timberwolves Army is located in section 121. The group usually starts chants, holds up signs, and cheers their team from start to finish. They have a booth in the front lobby for those interested in standing with them for that particular game.
Target Center is an easy stadium to get to by light rail, car, or bus. There are plenty of parking ramps around the stadium that range from $5 to $12. Some ramps are attached to the skyway system downtown which means never having to step foot outside. Minneapolis is the coldest major metropolitan area in the U.S. so this could be a perk in the wintertime. Street parking is rare around the arena and will cost as much if not more than a ramp. Some spots can be found for free after 6 PM but it is a longer walk to the stadium and not advisable alone after dark. There are a few concert venues around the arena as well as Target Field so traffic can be hectic after a game. There are plenty of signs downtown directing you toward the stadium and also back to the freeways afterwards. If you take I-35W or I-94 to the stadium, they are very easy to find and well marked as you are leaving your parking area.
For those who are fans of mass transit, the Metro blue line runs from the Mall of America to Target Field. The 2nd to last stop on the line is the Hennepin Avenue station which stops a block east of the arena. For now, the blue line runs only from Bloomington to Minneapolis. In late 2014, the St. Paul portion will open which will connect the twin cities together by rail. There are plenty of park and ride spots at the 28th Avenue station which is just north of the Mall of America. There are plenty of buses that service the downtown area from all suburban areas of Minneapolis/St. Paul as well.
There are plenty of places to exit the stadium but only two entrance points. The first is the main gate on First Avenue and the second is inside Huberts Sports Bar on the east side of the building.
Tickets to a Wolves game will range from $10 to $300 face value. Lately, tickets can be had cheaper than face value if you look hard enough. There are a few noteworthy promotions such as guys or girls night out and the Timberwolves meal deal. The guys or girls night out is select weekday games throughout the year. It includes an upper level ticket, beer or soda, and a souvenir cup for $18. For $22, the Timberwolves meal deal includes an upper level ticket, hot dog, soda, and chips. You also get a coupon for a free large Papa John's pizza. There are also other specials such as college students on select nights, kid's nights, and a 25th season deal. All of these specials are presale only (not available on game days) so keep that in mind when trying to buy these. The prices for food at the Target Center are higher than average but these specials are good for your budget. There isn't a bad seat in the building for a view of the basketball game; you get what you pay for no matter how much or little you want to spend.
Target Center gets an extra bonus point for handing out free detailed roster sheets and in game stats at various locations around the stadium. These take the place of programs which is an added expense. Another bonus point is for the amount of concession stands around the arena. Although the food can be somewhat expensive, you won't miss much of the game while getting a snack. The arena gets another bonus point for the amount of games for kids before the game. There is kid's basketball court at the main entrance with a structured shoot around. With other amenities around the arena such as photo ops and other games, this makes it fun for the whole family. The staff is friendly and will usually strike up a conversation with you about the how the team is doing.
Target Center is a fun place to visit whether by yourself, with friends, or with your family. The arena doesn't have many bells and whistles like most new arenas do. The Metrodome was known to be a no frills stadium and I get the feeling here as well. There are clubs in the stadium for those who want to spend a bit but for the most part, the main feature is inside the stadium seating area and not on the concourses. The sightlines are good no matter where you sit. Target Center will undergo a $100 million renovation after the 2013-2014 season and it will be interesting to see the improvements beginning the 2014-2015 season. I have yet to go to a game here and not get a fun game day experience. Now if only the Wolves can start fielding a playoff team!
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.
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.
700 North 1st Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
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Minneapolis, MN 55403