Are the Minnesota Timberwolves now in danger of leaving the Twin Cities?
The latest report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reopens the question: are the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Twin Cities for the long haul, or is a franchise transfer a legitimate possibility?
The past several weeks have included a lot of assurance about the long-term status of the Minneapolis franchise from outgoing owner Glen Taylor.
But now, all of his recent statements can be questioned.
The sale agreement reportedly does not include language to keep the Minnesota Timberwolves from moving
Wojnarowski reports that the sale agreement between Taylor and the new ownership group led by former Major League Baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez and tech billionaire Marc Lore does not include a clause or provision that will force the new team to keep the franchise in Minnesota.
Taylor has, on numerous occasions and as documented by Wojnarowski, said the purchase agreement will include language to keep the team in the Twin Cities. This does not appear to be the case today.
It all happened following a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis by the team’s largest minority owner Meyer Orbach. The complaint concerns Taylor who allegedly allowed Orbach to exercise his company’s “tag-along rights,” which would allow him to divest the team before selling majority ownership.
From Wojnarowski’s piece:
The complaint filed by Orbach, a New Jersey real estate mogul who owns more than 17% of the Timberwolves and WNBA Lynx, also includes a significant revelation: Despite Taylor’s public statements to the contrary, no he included the provision in the $ 1.5 billion sale agreement with Lore and Rodriguez requiring the new ownership group to keep the Minnesota franchise in control of the team, according to an exhibit in the complaint.
In fact, the new details of Taylor’s sale agreement with Lore and Rodriguez – expected to be completed by July 1 – include a clause under “Management Matters” that lists several actions that will require new ownership. to “present to the Advisory Board for discussion” – including any plans to “move the team out of the Twin Cities market.”
According to an exhibit in the complaint, the agreement between Taylor and the Lore-Rodriguez group recognizes that the “Advisory Board is advice only… and no action… that requires the approval, in any form, of the Advisory Board to be effective. . “
Importantly, there are no contractual limits to prevent Lore and Rodriguez from moving the Timberwolves to a new city.
Whew This appears to be a direct contradiction to everything Taylor has stated publicly since news of an exclusive negotiation window between Taylor and the Rodriguez-Lore group came back in early April.
What are the chances of the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise moving?
There are many factors at play.
First, has the sale been completed in the wake of Orbach’s complaint? That’s clearly the first hurdle that needs to be cleared, and it certainly appears that there’s a case Orbach will do.
Even if Rodriguez and Lore take over, it’s unclear whether they’ll be motivated to move the franchise. As we recorded here at Dunking With Wolves coming back last summer, Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area is the No. 15 media markets in the United States and will surpass many NBA markets, including Miami, Denver and Cleveland. Seattle, the often cited target of any future relocation attempt, is at 13th.
Twin Cities is a much more attractive professional sports marketplace and a city that supports all of its teams when they see a modicum of success. This includes Kevin Garnett’s Timberwolves teams, of course, and any concern about the team’s attendance over the past decade and a half needs to be linked directly to the complete and absolute lack of anything resembling success on the court.
Finally, the league must ride a move. Not only is it expensive to move a team, and the league should be able to ride the No. 1 vacancy. 15 on the market. The NBA is rider with expansion, with commissioner Adam Silver calling it “inevitable”.
Why move the team to No. 15 market in No. 13 market if the league can only add so many teams? Additionally, the league has an expansion fee of $ 2.5 billion, so it’s more financially beneficial away for the NBA to encourage expansion versus transfer.
In other words, the team is still unlikely to move. But that doesn’t change the fact many of Taylor’s claims over the past few weeks have been false, and certainly cause for eyebrow raising from across the league, not to mention the Timberwolves ’abusive fanbase.
So, will there be another round in the ownership saga surrounding the Wolves? It certainly seems like a safe bet at this point. Stay focused.