SBJ/March 26-April 1, 2012/Facilities

Timberwolves reduce number of suites, take fresh look at premium inventory

The Minnesota Timberwolves will decrease the number of suites in the Target Center from 56 to 40, the latest NBA team to cut its highest-priced premium seating inventory.

The team’s move to eliminate the suites by next season comes as the Timberwolves announced the sellout of their 120-seat all-inclusive Club Cambria priced at $4,420 per season. The team also announced a sellout of its 40 loge seats that are priced at $5,289 per season.

But the team has leases on just 32 of the Target Center’s 56 suites, and the vacancies are driving the plan to cut the number of suites to 40 by next season.

The price of the suites ranges from $75,000 to $155,000.

The team has not announced any specific plans on how it will use the space created by the suite decrease, but other teams have added clubs and lounges in retrofitting suite space.

“We are already sold out of our Cambria Club so we are looking at expanding that space and putting three different types of offerings on the suite level,” said Chris Wright, president of the Timberwolves. “There are an awful lot of suites in this market and we are trying to find the best ways to package them.”

The suite decrease comes as the team increases its season-ticket sales over the past season, with a full-season-ticket base reaching more than 7,000 compared with 5,000 last year. This year, the Timberwolves, who raised season-ticket prices about 6 percent for next year, have a 93 percent renewal rate.

“[Suites] are a harder sell,” said Ryan Tanke, senior vice president of ticket sales and premium seating for the Timberwolves. “We are in the middle of putting together an aggressive strategy to relaunch the suites.”

Though it is early in the league’s renewal process, Timberwolves officials said they currently rank at the top of the league in season-ticket renewals and in new full-season-ticket sales, with 700 sold so far.

The Wolves also have sold most of their 220 Courtside Club seats that are priced between $5,289 and $56,330 per season. But the recent success in selling those pricey season tickets hasn’t yet moved up to the suite level.

“We are in a most competitive suite market with Target Field, the TCF Bank Stadium and the [Xcel Energy Center] hockey arena,” Tanke said.

The move to cut suites comes after the Detroit Pistons said they were considering a plan to eliminate half of the 178 suites at the Palace of Auburn Hills. In addition, the New York Knicks cut 71 suites from the top level of Madison Square Garden as part of the renovation and are redistributing them to other levels of the arena. When the renovation is complete, MSG will more have eight more suites, at 96, than before the project started.

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