While speaking with several sources the past few days for yet another in an ongoing series of columns on Sacramento's need to replace Arco Arena and somehow find a way to finance a new sports/entertainment complex for the region, I was intrigued by plans in Minneapolis for a $155 million renovation of the Target Center. As I write in Friday's Bee, the city and the Timberwolves are pushing a private/public partnership, and for several reasons, renovation seems to make more sense than gutting the structure and rebuilding. Though the facility was built in 1990 - two years after Arco - it was built for almost twice the price, and in terms of square footage, is almost twice the size. In other words, it was built to last, built to expand, and built for the future. Though never a huge fan of the building itself -and the visitors locker room is horrendous, much worse than Arco - I was sold on location, location, location.
Downtown Minneapolis is a vibrant, manageable urban center, and the presence of the Target Center, which transformed the seedy warehouse district, is a huge factor in all of this. Shopping, restaurants, light rail, hotels, the theatre district ... all within walking distance and physically and geographically connected. Great, great city. Great, great vibe. You can stay at any number of hotels and be within blocks of the arena. (Many of the hotels and shopping areas are conneced to the Target Center by interior walking corridors because of the brutal winters.) I haven't even seen the Twins new ballpark yet, but colleagues tell me that it only enhances one of our favorite downtowns.
I'm not sure what will come out of Tuesday's City Council meeting - and I'm hoping the Council remains open to all possibilities - but every time I visited Minneapolis, I always envisioned a Target Center-type entertainment district displacing the blight on K Street and the struggling Downtown Plaza. Somewhere downtown for sure.
Of course, the question remains: who pays for the complex? I was somewhat surprised to see that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor was listed on Forbes list of the wealthiest NBA owners and one of its billionaires. The Maloofs aren't in the same league. But I'll say it again: There is allure to the fact that Sacramento is the capitol of California. Time to be innovative ... find some source of financing.