Pros: Good sight lines. New seats in 2004. Good PA system. Lots of parking.
Cons: Not enough entrances and exits. Bland/ugly concourses.
When Minneapolis was awarded a National Basketball Franchise in the late 1980s, one of the conditions on getting the team was to build a first-rate arena for the team to play in. With bad memories of the Minneapolis Lakers fleeing to LA in mind, the powers-that-be decided to construct a decent venue that would not be outdated the moment the doors opened. For the most part they succeeded, and the Target Center has become the permanent home of the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves and a decent place for numerous other activities.
Since the Target Center opened in 1990 I have attended about 30 events there, most of which were basketball games or concerts. The Target Center also hosts rodeos, ice-skating events, circuses, horse shows, political rallies, conferences, and even professional wrestling matches. It seems best suited for sporting events though.
The Target Center has seating for about 18,400 people. About 1,000 more can be crammed into the building for "sold-out" events. In 2004 the original red seats were ripped out and replaced with green, blue, and black seats, which are the team colors of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The new seats are supposed to be more "fan friendly", but to me they seem more scrunched together. However, they are reasonably comfortable for me and for other people that I have asked.
There are two tiers of seating that are accessible from either a lower or upper concourse. In general, the lower seats afford a considerably better view of events than the upper level. The sight lines are good and most of the rows are not endlessly long. Each seat has a cup holder that holds the beverage cup relatively upright (Unlike the cup holders in the Minneapolis Metrodome, which tip downward!).
The seats in the upper level have relatively steep stairways and a few have slightly obstructed views due to the scoreboard, which hangs over mid court. However, the upper level seats that run parallel to the court (lengthwise) are not too bad. Just don't look down over the railing. There a several areas that are have handicapped accessible seating just off of the concourses. These areas generally have folding chairs next to them too.
There is a mezzanine area that holds private suites, most used by business groups. I sat in this area once for a Crosby Stills Nash & Young concert. It was a nice treat (comp tickets) since the suites are enclosed, have nicely padded seats, a TV, food, and beverages. I have no idea what it costs.
For concerts, the best seats will depend on how the area is configured. Sometimes the stage is at one end of the arena and other times it is in the middle, with one end covered-up with curtains. It is best to consult the box office about the stage location before buying tickets.
For Timberwolves games I usually sit in the lower level in the corner behind the backcourt, about 10 rows up. These seats are quite good, and run about $65/seat right now. Former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura used to sit about 20' from there (his big bald head was unmistakable). I occasionally get comp tickets about 6 rows up from mid-court, which are terrific. Those are $150/seat I only sit there if they are paid by someone else!
I have also been to a couple WNMBA games to see the Minnesota Lynx, sitting once in the upper deck and once in the lower. The court layout is the same, but the upper deck is partially blocked off since attendance runs at about 6,000 per game.
One of the big negatives of the Target Center is small number of entrances and exits (not counting fire exits, which are plentiful). The lines to get into the building get quite long, and there are only two main doors to go through: One from the skyway and one from the main ticket lobby at 600 First Avenue North. Tickets are scanned electronically at the entrance and there are also security people looking for items that are not permitted inside the building.
Once inside the building you have to take a series of escalators up to the level you are ticketed on. These are always packed with people and if someone falls down it jams up even more. Make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes early.
The concourses are fairly wide, but get very crowded near the escalators. They are also poorly lit it's very dreary looking. I don't know why they don't slap some bright paint on the walls to brighten it up.
The speakers are quite loud and tend to echo a bit off the 101 foot ceiling. For basketball games expect some loud music beforehand and during the breaks too. For concerts, the sound system is considered adequate by most people, but not great. The biggest complaint by a lot of people has always been the sub-par acoustics, but I have never been disappointed myself.
The food selection at Target Center is mediocre, but if you look hard enough you should find something you like. Most choices are hot dogs, bratwurst, pizza, popcorn, soft drinks, pretzels, etc. But there are a few stands that sell BBQ chicken, beef sandwiches, salads, and nachos plates. Expect to pay $3 to $8 for a bite to eat.
Beer flows plentifully and features some local brands, such as Leinenkugel and Grainbelt, along with Budweiser and some other national brands. Expect to pay $4 to $6 per serving.
Tickets are sold in the main lobby of Target Center on First Avenue. The box office opens 4 hours prior to each event. Tickets for events, if available, can be reserved ahead of time and picked up at the Will Call ticket window.
They accept credit cards, but checks are only accepted if the tickets are for a future event, not a same-day event.
Ticket scalpers can be found on First Avenue just east of the Target Center. They seem to congregate on two or three nearby corners. Unless the game is a hot one you can probably find a discounted ticket or unload some extra ones.
Call 612-673-0900 for more details.
Target Center is located on the north side of downtown Minneapolis in the Warehouse District on First Avenue. It is easy to access. One nice feature of the Target Center is the 6,000-spot parking garage that is attached to the arena by a skyway. It's possible to park and walk in without venturing through the city streets. These parking spots are about $10/vehicle and exiting can take 15-20 minutes when the game is over. But they seem to be well lit and safe.
There are an additional 5,000 parking spots within 3 blocks of the Target Center that run from $3-$10 on most nights. I've parked in these places numerous times and they are all fine, unless it's one of those freezing or snowy winter nights! The streets are usually well patrolled by police after a game so your personal safety should be OK.
The main scoreboard hangs over center court for basketball games. It is huge and easily visible. Smaller scoreboards circle the arena between the upper and lower decks. They are very colorful and first-rate.
The restrooms seem to be pretty plentiful, and 60% are designated for woman. No more waiting in line! They have always been pretty clean too, at least by my standards.
Fans are not permitted to have video or audio recorders in Target Center. Non-professional cameras are OK though. Also, weapons (duh!) laser pointers and beverage bottles and cans will be confiscated but only if they find them ?.
Smoking is not permitted anywhere, so if you smoke bring some Nicorette to tide you over. There is a non-entry policy, so don"t count on ducking outside for a quick smoke either.
Just east of Target Center on First Avenue and Hennepin Avenue is a huge selection of
restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and coffee shops. This area is called the Warehouse District and is easy to walk to from the arena. For the most part the area is safe, although crime seems to increase after midnight.
Have a great time!
600 First Avenue North
© trailhound. 2005.