Target Center prepares for vaccine mandate at Timberwolves games

An upcoming Timberwolves game will be the first of 22 events at Target Center where patrons and staff will be required to comply with new vaccine mandates in Minneapolis and St Paul.

Starting January 26 through February 28 those attending a ticketed event will have to either show a valid COVID-19 vaccine card or proof of a negative test within 72 hours.

"We are bringing on 30 extra folks right now just to do the vaccine checks," says Steve Sawyer, Director of Hospitality and Event Services at Target Center.

Sawyer says he quickly learned during two independent vaccine-to-enter shows last fall, Penatonix and Dave Chapelle, that a lot more staff and time is needed to get ticket holders through the lobby and eventually to their seats. 

"So it will be vaccine check, ticket scan, security, and then enter," says Sawyer.

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Doors for Timberwolves games will open a half hour earlier than usual. Early vaccine checks and hand stamps will be available at about 3 p.m. the day of events.

Plus staff is working on making rapid PCR tests and a medical professional to perform them available on site for anyone age five or older anyone without the proper paperwork. Sawyer says images of a disappointed child trying to enter Disney on Ice in mid-February is top of mind, and he wants to offer people caught off guard by the mandate a solution.  

"It’s kinda a judgement call (about age of the child), we are going to take some of the parents word for it. But we definitely checking anyone in the age, it’s really about that negative test," says Sawyer.

Proof of vaccination or negative test within 72 hours must be presented to dine in at Minneapolis and St. Paul bars and restaurants.

Much smaller venues are also adding staff. The Landmark Lagoon Cinema in Uptown started the new check routine on the same day as bars and restaurants.

"People for the most part seem to expect it. If they don’t, it’s usually fumbling through things," says manger, Patrick Cross. "It’s been fine so far."

Knowing many other local venues ranging from the Children’s Theater to the Minnesota Orchestra have required proof of vaccination or negative tests for some time, management at Target Center is optimistic their game plan will work.

"Our main goal is everyone can still come to the event they have tickets for," says Sawyer.