My recent Timberwolves experience at Target Center

Jan 7, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine (8) dribbles past Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood (5) during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine (8) dribbles past Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood (5) during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the past weekend, I had the opportunity to make my annual pilgrimage up to the Great North and attend a Timberwolves game at the Target Center. The following are my takeaways from the experience.

As a collegiate athlete, I rarely have opportunities to go to sporting events other than my own, so the trip to Target Center was a big deal to me.

Although I love watching my beloved Timberwolves, the lack of success recently has actually made watching the game secondary to me. What I truly enjoy is being immersed in the atmosphere of games.

The Timberwolves and Target Center staff seem to up their game every single year, and I wanted to highlight a few attributes of note during my recent experience.

First, the ticketing system the Wolves use is first class. This is the only team whose games I attend use the Flash Seats app, and it is the future. Requiring patrons to only need their phone or credit card rather than a paper ticket really speeds up the process of getting into the arena, which really came in handy for me. I arrived to a line that was roughly a couple hundred feet long and at least ten people wide, but once the doors opened, I was in within five minutes.

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Similar to prior visits, the first thing I noticed after walking up the stairs to the main concourse was the smell of food. The aroma of bratwurst and popcorn filled my nose, and seeing as I hadn’t eaten for six hours prior, really enticed me to order.

The food for the games is far above average, which is a nice luxury. Diverse food options are something I’m only used to at baseball games. I decided to order a Cuban flatbread sandwich with potato chips, which came out fresh instead of sitting under a warming lamp. I really appreciate all the options the Target Center offers for food for a fairly affordable price.

Along with the greeting of the scent of great food, I was also welcomed by a very friendly usher upon entering our section. He was very engaging and helpful (even though I don’t necessarily need it) and when I would leave my seat mid-game, he remembered me and didn’t continue to pester me for my ticket stub like I have experienced at other events in the past. I wish I could remember his name so I could credit him, but I’m sure their whole usher staff is great.

It was impossible to walk into the seating area and not notice the first addition of the new renovations; the new scoreboard is massive. It truly dwarfs the old videoboard, and really draws your attention from the start.

It allows you to see all the action and is nice for in-game animations and effects that really add to the overall production. Here’s a photo from last year (top) and one from this year (bottom), so you can see a side-by-side of just how big of a difference it is.

Which brings me to my final point, and the reason I love going to these games: the production value is through the roof. The DJ was spinning great songs pregame, and the sound system makes it sound huge. As a former touring musician, I really appreciate a good sounding system that fills the room, and believe me when I say that this thing did.

I was so pumped up from the songs, I wanted to rip off my tearaways and run to the scorer’s table myself. The heavy bass continued during the game, too. It reminded me of playing pickup ball at my local gym with my big stereo system hooked up. It was really awesome!

The pregame introductions get better and better every year as well. The lights dim down, the spotlights scatter all over the court, and smoke billows from each basket as players are introduced and greeted by their teammates.

It is a shame that these games aren’t better attended — the arena was probably near 60 percent capacity on a Saturday night. The crowd would get up when an exciting play would happen, as expected, but most weren’t actively involved in the game.

If the Jazz made a run offensively, the crowd would moan and groan, rather than get up and get loud. This young roster could thrive with some vocal crowd support and a volatile environment would make for a dangerous home-court advantage.

Next: Timberwolves Mid-Season Review: Backcourt Starters

The Target Center was once just that, and if the team could find just a bit of the winning ways of old, it could become that again. Regardless of the team’s performance, my experience gets better every year, and it is a great environment for any fan, young or old.