In the Twin Cities for Wednesday's game between the Wolves and San Antonio Spurs at Target Center, Stern expressed hope that renovation plans "come to a final form in the next few weeks." "We want to maintain the building so it doesn't fall behind," the commissioner said. "It's pretty important to make capital improvement on an ongoing basis. The fans deserve it. I get very excited about the impact that a fresh, continually busy building can have on a vital downtown."
The Timberwolves and city of Minneapolis introduced plans more than a year ago to renovate Target Center, which opened in 1991. Initial costs were projected at $155 million but now range from $100 million to $150 million. Initially scheduled to begin in May, the renovation has been delayed because of disagreements over cost responsibilities between the Timberwolves, city of Minneapolis and AEG, the company that operates Target Center.
Stern, who plans to retire Feb. 1, 2014, said the delay should not trigger concerns over the Wolves leaving Minnesota.
"The fans don't have to worry about that at all," he said.
Stern said that when the renovation is completed he will recommend to his successor, Adam Silver, Target Center as a future host for NBA All-Star Weekend. Target Center hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 1994. "I wouldn't say this building is currently configured for that," Stern said.
Stern's retirement will end a 30-year run as the league's commissioner. Among his outgoing duties is to help Wolves owner Glen Taylor find a buyer to take over majority ownership of the team. Stern said he has been "pretty involved" in the process.
Taylor, who has owned the Wolves since 1994, stepped down as chairman of the league's Board of Governors last fall.
Stern also said the league and players union is moving toward an agreement on "full-fledged testing" for HGH, a performance-enhancing drug that is on the league's list of banned substances. Stern said he is optimistic testing will become mandatory next season. "We're watching baseball and football to see if they get through what I think they're going to get through," Stern said. "Based on our overall dialogue with the union, we'll be in a good place to have testing for next season. It's not a commitment, not a promise. It's an expectation. Our players have said, as a group, that we want to be demonstratively free from drugs."