As much as Glen Taylor's ownership of the Wolves might periodically frustrate the fans, there is a lot to be said for him buying and keeping the team in Minnesota. It's easy to read the recent story about him looking for a new majority owner for the Timberwolves, and get upset (IT"S SEATTLE ALL OVER AGAIN!!!!), and there is reason for concern.
However, there are also some reasons to be upbeat about the team remaining in Minnesota for the foreseeable future:
1. Wolves vs. the Vikings The number of Vikings fans in any Chammppps on a fall Sunday afternoon probably exceeds the number of die-hard Timberwolves fans throughout the state. But even though there are rumblings of some support for the Target Center in some of the Vikings stadium proposals, on the basis of cost-effectiveness, the net economic benefit of supporting an NBA team far exceeds putting public money towards an NFL franchise.
First, the Wolves play 40-some games downtown every year, many on weeknights, and during the winter. That brings 10,000 to 15,000 people out for each game who would otherwise likely not be in the area spending money. They don't tailgate, so if they are going to eat and drink before the game, it's going to have to be at a bar or restaurant.
The length of an NBA game also allows attendees more time to spend money in the area before and after the game, at least when compared to the 3-4 hour marathons involved in attending a Vikings (or for that matter, Twins) game.
The Wolves play in a facility that can generate revenue any day of the year, versus a football stadium that might host a couple of concerts each year (at most), and then a Super Bowl once ever 30 years. Therefore, it's easier to expect some payback on the investment in the Target Center than it is on spending money on a new football stadium.
2. Now vs. then It's safe to say that if Glen Taylor hadn't bought the team when he did, they would likely not be in Minnesota now. And keeping the team here over the last few decades makes it less likely the team will be moved.
The "stadium grift" to which SnP refers still certainly exists. But the economic malaise, focus on tax reduction, and political acrimony make it more difficult to ram these projects through now, than it was in the 1990s. Minnesota's experience with the Vikings (and soon the Timberwolves) is going to be repeated in dozens of cities throughout the next decade, and more teams will find the climate less hospitable to a free new arena or stadium than it was ten or twenty years ago.
3. Where will they go? Even if Taylor sells the team, and it's to someone from outside the state, and that person wants to move the team, the number of cash-rich rapidly-growing metropolitan areas with no NBA team can be counted on one hand. Seattle, Kansas City, and um . . . none others really come to mind (maybe Williston, North Dakota?). And Seattle and KC are smaller markets that already have an NFL and MLB team. Unless a Local Hero steps up with a half-billion, it's unlike those cities have either the time or the money to support a new NBA team.
4. The competition for an NBA team Even if some outsider wanted to buy (and move) the Wolves to a welcoming community, he or she would have his or her pick from several franchises that are struggling and/or for sale. The Bucks, the Bobcats, the Kings . . . a lot teams in the middle or at the bottom of this list are in small markets that may not be able to continually support a winning team, much less one that has gone almost a decade without making the playoffs.
Which brings up an oft-made point: Should some NBA teams be eliminated? I think the longer the Wolves go without a new arena or buyer, the more likely they and few of their small-market loser brethren get "contracted." But that scenario seems highly unlikely as long as David Stern and his ego are alive and well.
On another note Even though I'm relatively confident that the Wolves won't be going anywhere for a while if ever, consideration of the team moving is still a drag. So it was gratifying to read something that emerged in the wake of another sad topic (the death of Adam Yauch): the best basketball-related anecdote I have ever read.