P.J.R.: These Wolves look mighty fine from upstairs, too
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Target Center opened in 1990 with this unfortunate configuration: 9,000 seats in the "lower bowl'' and 10,000 seats upstairs.
There will be a remodeling currently priced at $97 million that will start some time in 2014. There will not be major changes in the seating areas, although a club room or two could appear in the upper deck and take away some of the capacity.
I had watched a couple of college hockey games from the building's awful excuse for a hockey press box at the top of the arena. I also had watched from above the worst excuse for an event in American sports history: Arena football (in the form of our late, unlamented Fighting Pike).
What I realized 20 minutes before the tipoff to Wednesday night's Timberwolves-Cleveland game was that I had never watched an NBA game - never in 23 previous seasons - from the upper deck.
I decided to give it a try. I settled in the 10th row of Section 204, which is the end zone above the tunnel where the Timberwolves enter and leave the court. Don't ask for a direction; I've never had an idea which way I'm pointing once inside Target Center.
My count put the number of rows in the upper deck at 21, meaning the 10th row was halfway to the back wall. The view wasn't bad, although I wouldn't like to be required to sit much higher.
And there are some advantages:
The bellowing of the in-house emcees isn't nearly as obnoxious. You have a full realization of the speed at which Corey Brewer and others are getting out on the break. And you can ooh-and-aah with complete appreciation at Ricky Rubio's sleight-of-hand when he gets the offense functioning at its best.
What's missing up there in the semi-boondocks is information, particularly when you have forgotten to bring along your cell phone for updates.
The absence of Kevin Martin from the starting lineup had not been announced when I left the media room at 6:45 p.m. to go wandering. So, when Robbie Hummel was announced as a starter, we got to theorizing upstairs.
I considered the possibility that Rick Adelman was so revolted by what he had seen from his second unit that he was holding out Martin ... that he would let Hummel, the rookie, play a few minutes at the start with the regulars, bring in Martin halfway through the first, and let him stay out there with J.J. Barea well into the second period.
When the first period came and went with no sign of Martin, that theory was dropped. Turned out, it was one of those favorites from recent seasons at Target Field - "flu-like symptoms'' - that had Martin out of the lineup.
What the hey, Adelman had been able to use the same starting five for the first eight games of the season. That had to be close to the record for lineup stability since this franchise's only playoff "run'' in 2004.
There was a gentleman with a booming voice sitting a few rows behind me. The tipoff came and he shouted: "Let's get this beat rolling again.''
And then came the chorus: "It has been a long time, baby. It's been a long time.''
Those of use on that side of the arena heard it a dozen times, maybe more: "It's been a long time.''
We were smiling and nodding our heads in and around Section 204: "He's right. It's been a long time since the Timberwolves put a team on the court that carries legitimate expectations.
"It's been a long time, since you could watch from the makeshift press area downstairs, or from the upper deck, and say, 'Barring the usual calamities, what we have here is a playoff team.' ''
This frustrated fan was speaking for everyone who follows the Timberwolves, we figured. And then he bellowed again:
"It has been a long time, baby. Seven years ... I haven't been in this arena in seven years.''
If what we saw from upstairs of Brewer and Rubio and Kevin Love, and even J.J. and the Four Stooges on Wednesday night, this gent might be back soon to bellow for the basketball, rather than in salute to himself.
--PATRICK JAMES REUSSE.