What is a mid-sized market NBA team worth during a pandemic?
The National Basketball Association’s Minnesota Timberwolves franchise is up for sale and this could be an interesting transaction. This is the first sports franchise that is on the market since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Glen Taylor has owned the franchise since 1994. Taylor has placed a sizeable stipulation on the transaction. Whatever individual or group that meets his price cannot move the franchise. That seems to have put a limit on parties that might want the team including investors who might take the team to Seattle or to Louisville or to other locales. Because of COVID-19, an uncertain economy and other factors, Taylor probably is looking at getting less for his business than say on February 15th of this year.
Minnesota almost lost its NBA franchise in 1994. When the NBA expanded in the late 1980s, it awarded the franchise to Harvey Ratner and Marvin Wolfenson. The two of them paid about $32 million for the franchise. Then two men also decided to build an arena without public assistance. The arena was supposed to cost about $70 million. It ended up costing more than $100 million. In 1992, the pair concluded that they could not afford the cost of an arena and expansion team and wanted Minnesota politicians to take over the building. In 1994, the Timberwolves owners reached an agreement to sell the team to New Orleans interests but a number of maneuvers which included a state takeover of the facility and the NBA blocking the sale of the team to Top Rank of Louisiana kept the team in Minneapolis. In August 1994, Glen Taylor spent $88 million to buy the franchise. In 1995 the City of Minneapolis took over the building. There are people interested in the Timberwolves even though we are in the midst of a pandemic.