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Last reviewed October 2013

Resources on Minnesota Issues
Target Center Arena and the Minnesota Timberwolves

Legislative History    Books and Reports    Articles    Additional Library Resources

This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to Minnesota legislators. It is designed to provide an introduction to the topic, directing the user to a variety of sources, and is not intended to be exhaustive.

In 1987, the city of Minneapolis was awarded a National Basketball Association franchise. Later that year the franchise owners, Minnesota businessmen Harvey Ratner and Marvin Wolfenson, received permission to build an arena in downtown Minneapolis. The home of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Target Center, opened in October 1990.

By 1992, facing financial problems, Ratner and Wolfenson were calling for a public buyout of the Target Center. Thus began a complex series of negotiations that culminated in 1994 with the Minnesota Legislature's approval of a public purchase of the arena, and the sale of the Timberwolves to Glen Taylor.

A brief history of the Target Center and the Minnesota Timberwolves:

1987 April: The NBA awards a franchise to Minneapolis. The owners are Harvey Ratner and Marvin Wolfenson. The Minnesota Timberwolves will join the NBA in the 1989-90 season.

1987 July: The Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities approves a $54 million professional basketball arena for downtown Minneapolis by an 8-7 vote, to be financed and owned by Ratner and Wolfenson.

1990 August: A corporate sponsor is found and the arena is named the Target Center.

1990 October: The Target Center opens at a cost of $104 million, plus $23 million in public subsidies from the city of Minneapolis. The first sporting event is the Timberwolves' 1990-91 season opener against Dallas on November 2nd.

1992-1993: Target Center owners Ratner and Wolfenson discuss a public purchase of the arena with the city of Minneapolis and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC). The possible sale of the Timberwolves to out-of-state investors intensifies the issue.

1994 January: Reports surface that Wolfenson and Ratner are considering moving the team to San Diego or Nashville. Thirty-five Twin Cities business leaders form a task force and pledge $5000 each to study the economic impact of the Target Center and, if justified, support a public purchase of the arena. The report released February 17th stated that the annual benefit of the arena and Timberwolves is $57.5 million, but that the prestige and other intangibles were worth much more.

1994 February: A group led by William Sexton, a Minnesota insurance executive, becomes a serious bidder for the Timberwolves.

1994 March: The Minneapolis City Council recommends that the Minnesota Legislature pass a law permitting the MSFC to purchase the Target Center. A bill is introduced by Rep. Richard Jefferson.

1994 May: Legislation for the public purchase of the Target Center, contingent on the team being sold to a local ownership group, passes and is signed by Gov. Arne Carlson on May 10th. (Laws of Minnesota 1994, chapter 648).

1994 May: Ratner and Wolfenson sell the Timberwolves to Top Rank of Louisiana for $152.5 million.

1994 June: An NBA panel disallows the sale of the Timberwolves to Top Rank.

1994 July: Sexton's offer of $85 million is turned down by Wolfenson and Ratner.

1994 August: Mankato businessman and former State Senator Glen Taylor buys the Timberwolves for $88.5 million.

1994 October: The NBA Board of Governors approves the Timberwolves sale to Taylor.

1994 December: The IRS publishes regulations suggesting that bonds serviced through ticket surcharges cannot be tax exempt, jeopardizing the Target buyout deal and sale of the team to Taylor.

1995 February: The Minneapolis City Council gives preliminary approval to a revised financing plan which includes $12.7 million in commitments to buy private bonds from the business community.

1995 March: Final approval of the Target Center financing plan is given by the Minneapolis City Council.

2002 October: The city of Minneapolis announces that the 1995 financing plan will have to be reexamined. Issues to be addressed include a projected revenue deficit that will leave the city short of funds needed to pay off the bonds and questions surrounding the financing of needed capital improvements to the Target Center.

2006 June: The city of Minneapolis agrees to pay up to $1.2 million to cover operating losses at Target Center during the next year.

2012 May: Vikings stadium legislation passes that allows Minneapolis to redirect some sales taxes toward renovations of the city-owned Target Center. The approximately $135 to $150 million renovation will be funded by $60 to $70 million of redirected sales tax revenue and additional private funds.

2013 October: The City of Minneapolis, the Timberwolves, and arena manager AEG agree on a renovation financing plan, subject to final approval by the Minneapolis City Council.

2013 November: The Minneapolis City Council approves the renovation refinancing plan. It is hoped that construction will start in the summer of 2014 and be completed in late 2015 or 2016.

Legislative History:

Significant Books and Reports:

Economic Impact Report on Target Center. Minneapolis: Arthur Andersen & Co., 1994. (GV416.M6 E26 1994)

Hugunin, Marc. Minnesota Hoops: Basketball in the North Star State. St. Paul : Minnesota Historical Society Press, c2006. (GV885.72.M6 H84 2006)

Knaff, Gene, et al., prepared under the direction of Steve Keefe. Metropolitan Significance Review Report: Proposed Arena of the NBA Franchise for Minneapolis. Minneapolis: Metropolitan Council, 1987. (GV416.M6 M382 1987)

Minnesota Stadium and Arena History. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, 2010. (GV415.M56 2010) (This chart includes financing details for each major stadium.)

Stadium Financing. Minneapolis: Minnesota Institute of Legal Education, 1998. (GV415 .S723 1998) (Includes a chapter, "Target Center I and II," by David W. Kelley and Andrew P. Lee. The terms of the 1987 and 1995 Target Center financing agreements are outlined.)

Significant Articles:

Alonzo, Rick. "City to Manage Target Center ." St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 8, 2007.

Belden, Doug. "Target Center Gets 2nd Look as Stadium Bill Takes Shape." St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 3, 2012.

Brandt, Steve. "$150M Renovation Unveiled for Target Center." Star Tribune, February 3, 2011.

Brandt, Steve. "Policy Change Means Money to Target Center, Minneapolis Neighborhoods." Star Tribune, December 4, 2009.

Gilyard, Burl. "Mpls, Wolves Near $100M Target Center Renovation Deal." Twin Cities Business, September 17, 2013.

Kahn, Aron. "Dome, Target Center Show Need for Planning: Varied Success Noted in Minneapolis." Star Tribune, October 10, 1999, p. 1A.

Olson, Rochelle. "Target Center is Under Review: The Arena's Latest Problems are Rooted in a '95 Financing Deal." Star Tribune, October 7, 2002, p. 1A.

Rao, Maya. "Target Center Deal Bound to a 'Mistake'." Star Tribune, February 2, 2012.

Roper, Eric. "Officials Announce $97 Million Target Center Renovation Agreement." Star Tribune, October 28, 2013.

Roper, Eric. "Target Center Vote Resurrects Vikings Debate." Star Tribune, November 13, 2013.

Sweeney, Patrick. "Target Center Buyout is Game for High Rollers." St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 28, 1993, p. 1A. (Outlines the pros and cons of a public purchase of the arena.)

"Target Center Buyout." Session Weekly, May 13, 1994, p. 31-32.

Vomhof, Jr., John. "Stadium Deal Promises Target Center Overhaul." Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, May 25, 2012.

Weiner, Jay. "Adequate or Antiquated? Target Center, Completed in 1990 and Owned by the City of Minneapolis, Has Been Getting Fixed Up, But it Needs Even More Improvement." Star Tribune, April 25, 2006, p. C1.

Weiner, Jay and Kevin Diaz. "As of Today, Target Center Financing is a Done Deal." Star Tribune, March 23, 1995, p. 1A.

Weiner, Jay. "City Set to Cover Target Center Losses." Star Tribune, June 13, 2006, p. B1.

Weiner, Jay. " Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minneapolis Are At Center of Any 'Cosmic' Sports Facilities Solution." MinnPost, February 3, 2011.

Weiner, Jay. "New Player Expected in Arena Wars: A Deal is in the Works For a New Manager for the Target Center, Which is Constantly Battling the Xcel Energy Center for Business." Star Tribune, April 9, 2007, p. A1, A4.

Weiner, Jay." Stadiums and Arenas: Is 'Global Solution' the Answer for Vikes, Wolves, Wild?" MinnPost, February 1, 2011.

Weiner, Jay. "Target Center Adequate But Getting Old." Star Tribune, October 30, 2006, p. S7.

Weiner, Jay. "Target Center Can't Compete: The Wolve's Home Needs a Makeover. But Tax Rules Prohibit the Wolves from Paying for it, and the City Can't Afford to. The Wild Faces No Such Restrictions." Star Tribune, February 23, 2003, p. 15C.

Weiner, Jay. " Target Center Renovation: How to Pay for it Remains a Mystery." MinnPost, February 1, 2011.

Additional Library Resources:

For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:

S150 - Stadiums, S148.4 - Sports-Basketball

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, 645 State Office Building, Saint Paul, MN  55155