What’s the difference between a $155M and a $97M renovation?

DEALThe Timberwolves/Lynx and the city of Minneapolis have rolled out a revamped renovation plan for Target Center, and it’s missing something: about $50 million in city money.

Originally pitched in 2011 as a $155 million, 2/3 city and 1/3 team deal, the new iteration of the Target Center renovation is closer to 50/50, and now includes AEG, the company with the management contract for the multi-purpose arena.

How did the project actually decline in cost?

“It’s a long story,” said Ted Johnson, the Timberwolves chief marketing officer.  “Even way back then, in 2012, when the Vikings bill had been signed, we trimmed the budget back to $135 million,” Johnson said. “It was basically the same ‘program,’ just a smarter way to do it, different lines, that kind of thing.”

So that leaves, oh, about $38 million to account for.

“The architects basically gave us an A and a B and a C version of this project. That original figure was for the A version,” Johnson said. “We don’t have enough to do the A version. It’s like rather than doing a gold-plated version, we’re going for the silver plated version…. There are very general reductions and compromises on big blocks of space. Not that we lose the idea, we just take the finish down a notch.”

Courtesy city of Minneapolis

Johnson said some new and improved features similar to those shown in the eye-candy renderings from 2011 remain: the big glass atrium and moving the ticket lobby to 6th Street and 1st Avenue are still in the project, as is the lobby/skyway redo for a more airy passage between the arena and 2nd Avenue.

“But we may lose that huge cantilevered roof line. We may need to do something smaller, less expensive,” Johnson says.

Other “musts” remain on the to-do list: new scoreboards, re-seating the bowls and clubs, and a big “overlook” bar on the upper level. The arena will be reconfigured to move the stage for concerts and make more room for shows.

And as has been the case with both the Vikings stadium and St. Paul’s Lowertown Ballpark, it looks like the initial renderings will be scrubbed and architects set to work on a new batch. Johnson said the term sheet calls for the city, the Wolves and AEG to form a design committee within 30 days and get the project out for design bids as soon as possible.