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Timberwolves sale may overperform market

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A Minnesota Timberwolves sale may outperform estimates of the NBA franchise’s worth, as early reports have a sale price approaching $1.5 billion.

Glen Taylor, the Minnesota businessman who also owns the Star Tribune, saved the team once from a potential move when he bought the team for $88 million in 1994 from original owners Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner, has not definitively placed the team on the market. But after being approached by the Raine Group about a potential sale only to see the buyer drop out, Taylor decided to engage Raine Group on testing the waters on a sale.

Early on insiders estimated the price for the Minnesota Lynx (presumably) and Minnesota Timberwolves sale would be between $1 billion and $1.2 billion, but Forbes is reporting Taylor has rejected a $1.45 billion offer and is now anticipating a potential sale at $1.5 billion.

This is a little less than the $1.66 billion paid by tech entrepreneur Ryan Smith for the Utah Jazz (NBA), Vivint Arena, the G League’s Salt Lake City Stars and management of the MiLB Salt Lake Bees from the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. There will be temptations to compare the two, but it’s really an apples to oranges kinda thing. In Minnesota, the Timberwolves run the city-owned facility; in Salt Lake City, the team owns the arena. The Minneapolis-St. Paul market is roughly triple the size of the Salt Lake City market. The only real competition for the Jazz on the sporting front is the successful Real Salt Lake MLS team; in Minneapolis-St. Paul there is competition from MLB, NFL, NHL and MLS teams.

An issue will be how a new owner could unlock some value in the team that’s undergoing a total rebuild: the Timberwolves were dead last in the NBA in 2019-2020 attendance at 15,066 fans per game, so one strategy would be to let President of Baseball Operations Gersson Rosas continue his work on roster changes and hope that improvements on the court will lead to improvements at the gate. There’s also the possibility of adding more events to Target Center–but don’t expect the event economy to pop back any time soon.

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