1-on-1 with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Fans interested in finding out more about the City of Minneapolis' renovation proposal should visit www.targetcenterrenovation.org for more information.

Jonah Ballow: Following the press conference on Tuesday afternoon, what is the most important message you want to deliver to Minnesotans?

Mayor Rybak: Well first Target Center has been a great partner to the city and the state - 200 events a year, $120 million bucks back to the state and more important, the place where parents like me come for many years for family events. A lot of good things happen. The future is really about the fact that the bones are here with a great building but it's time to invest now, so we don't have to do more later - $150 million is a lot of money and I can't say we know exactly where it comes from today, but I can tell you this, it's a lot less than $480 million Orlando used to build a big, new arena. So let's do this in a Minnesota way - practical but first class and investing now so we don't have to spend more later.

Jonah Ballow: Why is now the time to go public and announce the Target Center Renovation plan?

Mayor Rybak: Target Center is 20 years old and it's competitive but it shows its wear, it's time to move forward. Think of all the discussions we've had here and in other communities around the country about waiting till a building gets obsolete and then suddenly everyone is running around, trying to move quickly. Let's be smart. Let's invest now. Let's also say we have a unique opportunity because the owner, Glen Taylor, has stepped forward to be a partner, AEG who manages the building has stepped forward and as a city we're stepping forward. It's tough to get everybody on the same page, but we've got all the players involved in this building on the same page and let's try to get it done.

Jonah Ballow: How important is a building like this to not only Minneapolis but the state of Minnesota?

Mayor Rybak: Of these 200 hundred events they attract people from all 87 counties in the state of Minnesota. As I mentioned it's generated $127 million to the state since it was built, so it's really important. Also, one of the things is the Wolves are going to be beneficiaries of this if we build the suites and the seats and it creates new revenue streams. Think about Target Field and what that does to help make the Twins more competitive - bigger crowds, more seats, more ways to generate revenue for the team - translates into more competitive team - translates into a little more exciting to watch. And so it means a lot to have a great building that's competitive. It's also smart to invest now so we don't do more later.

Jonah Ballow: What are some of the misconceptions you would like to dispel?

Mayor Rybak: Well the first thing is people say is, 'Why should we do this now? It's a terrible time to invest.' You know what? It is a terrible time to invest, but who says it's going to be better in a year or five or 10? And if we wait it will cost more then. People say, 'Mayor why would you stand up and do this now? We've got all these other issues.' Yeah, we've got other issues, but it would be irresponsible of me and the community to just sweep this under the table and hope somebody else solves it a few years later. That's why we get into these problems with some of these other buildings, because everybody says, 'Yeah I get the problem, but I'm not going to step up and try to solve it.' I don't have an easy answer and I don't think anybody does, but I know that part of the solution is to act now, so we don't have to do more later.

Jonah Ballow: Mayor, tell us the next steps in this process to eventually see a renovated Target Center in the near future?

Mayor Rybak: You know, we do things in public. So, what we did was we laid this out and public and now we're going to say, 'We're going to do some of the tough work and figure out how to pay for this.' We've got scrub those numbers because we don't want to spend a nickel more than we have to, but we want to spend enough to make this good - that's going to be an important part of that, and I think just doing a lot of educating and listening to people about what this building needs and how we can make sure that it's better.

Jonah Ballow: Now to the tough question. Who is your favorite player on this Wolves squad?

Mayor Rybak: Well, I like Ridnour. I think he adds a real nice touch and I was a big fan of Fred Hoiberg, you got to love the Mayor, you know? I like guards. I think that Kevin Love, it kind of smells like him around here, he should go to the All-Star Game, but I think it's a good combination of folks. And I would kind of like Ricky Rubio around here someday too.
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