Is the Fiserv Forum A Model For A New Timberwolves Arena?

Photo courtesy of Target Center

Target Center has hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves since 1990, creating some great memories along the way. However, it’s the second-oldest stadium in the league, and Minnesota’s new owners may want a new facility soon. It won’t be easy to prove to Minneapolis taxpayers that this Wolves team is worthy of a new stadium, though. Plus, many roadblocks stand in the way for a mid-market team like the Timberwolves to think about a new arena.

While Target Center has been a great home for the Wolves for over 32 years, a very dated feel comes when attending a Timberwolves game or any event. From low barring ceilings in the concourse to a cramped feeling inside, the Target Center feels like a building from the 90s. Recent renovations improved the overall gameday experience immensely, with additions like the all-glass Atrium into which fans file into games, an 18 feet high by 33-foot wide jumbotron, and brand new seats. Despite those renovations, it may be time to move on from the second oldest NBA arena and start following in the Milwaukee Bucks’ footsteps.

The Bucks play in a smaller city and may provide a blueprint for a new arena. Now that the Wolves have a competitive roster and there’s growing excitement around them, Marc Lore, Alex Rodriguez, and the city of Minneapolis may be more inclined to build the Timberwolves a new home.

Milwaukee is an even smaller market than Minnesota, 37th in the U.S. However, the Bucks broke ground on their brand new home in June 2016. The Fiserv Forum is a $524 million arena using $250 million in taxpayer money, $174 million from the team’s owners, and $100 million from former Senator Herb Kohl. That split was odd, though. Usually, the public doesn’t pay more for the arena than team owners do. When looking at a new Wolves arena, the payment should be closer to 50/50 between the city of Minneapolis and the owners.

Indoor arenas are typically good investments for taxpayers and team owners. They can host various events, from basketball games to concerts to large gatherings. “More than just an arena,” reads the Fiserv Forum description on their website. “Fiserv Forum is the central hub for recreation in Milwaukee, connecting communities, neighborhoods, and generations… for generations to come. Fiserv Forum is much more than just the new home for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball.”

So if Milwaukee can do it, so can Minnesota, right?

Before ever stepping foot on the Target Center parquet, the 1989-90 Wolves pack kicked off their inaugural season in the infamous Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. While that season may not have been glamorous – the T-Pups finished 22-60 – the fan base around the team took off.

During Minnesota’s time at the Metrodome, they drew in the third-largest single-game crowd in NBA history at the time. 49,551 fans packed in on April 17 to see the Timberwolves host the Denver Nuggets. For context, the Target Center holds a capacity of around 19,000. The Wolves moved into Target Center for the 1990-91 season and have resided there ever since.

The Wild may have labeled Minnesota the State of Hockey, but Minneapolis would be a basketball city if ownership and management give them a team with sustained success. With Lore and Rodriguez taking over Glen Taylor’s seat in the coming years and seemingly looking to bring a new culture to Minnesota while hinting at the building of a new arena, a Fiserv-like building is not out of reach.

If they build a new arena, tearing down the Target Center and building a new stadium is probably the best way to go about it. Target Center is well-located downtown. The ease of access is outstanding. It stands on the outskirts of Minneapolis, right off of 394, and with multiple parking ramps right off the freeway. Cruising in for a Wolves game is usually a breeze, regardless of traffic.

The Mayo Clinic Square is across the street, which houses the Timberwolves’ practice facility. Team members can access this without leaving Target Center to brave the cold winter months, courtesy of Minneapolis’ skyway system. Above Mayo Clinic Square lies the Loews Hotel, where new members of the Wolves and visiting opponents stay during their time here.

Everything associated with the Timberwolves is on the same road, making Target Center’s location perfect and something they shouldn’t change.

Still, one of the last pieces to the puzzle for the Wolves to obtain a new home is earning it. Past Timberwolves teams have done nothing to prove that they deserve a new home. That may be changing, though.

Following a postseason berth last year and a crucial off-season bringing in key pieces like Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson, the Wolves are in a “win-now” mindset. The future also looks very bright as Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, and Co. should develop and continue to be part of the mix for years to come.

If the Wolves can be a consistent playoff threat and sell the Target Center out every night, I’d expect increased talks on a new home for both the Timberwolves and Lynx. Until then, we will wait, longing for the consistent winning we’ve all been searching for.

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Photo courtesy of Target Center

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