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PICKING THROUGH THE WRECKAGE IN MINNEAPOLIS
Published January 10, 1995
State and local officials in MN "scrambled" Monday to explain how the Target Center buyout "abruptly collapsed, and acknowledged that they haven't figured out how to save it." In hastily called news conferences at the Metrodome and the State Capitol, officials said they were "optimistic they could find ways to counter Sunday's shocking revelation that the financing method appears to violate federal tax law. But they offered few concrete ideas and admitted that time is running out." Meanwhile, IRS officials and other bond experts said the industry has "known for a year that regulations on such tax issues were expected by the end of 1994." Henry Savelkoul, Chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, said the NBA is "growing impatient" with the delay. Glen Taylor's bid to buy the Timberwolves hinges on a public buyout of the Target Center. Currently, Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner own both the Wolves and the arena. MN Gov. Arne Carlson said he would not rule out more state aid for the arena deal, "although he acknowledged that legislative leaders do rule it out." Some state legislators hinted that Members of MN's congressional delegation might be asked to intercede on the IRS ruling, allowing the public buyout of the Target Center to occur (Ison & McGrath, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/10). In Minneapolis, columnist Jim Klobuchar is confident a deal will be worked out: "Sweat no bullets. Arne the Governor has the messiah franchise well in hand, but event if he didn't, a way will be found. ... The Target Center deal will be rescued because the alternative, not rescuing it, will be even wackier and more expensive, the bottomless swamp to end them all" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/10). "Whatever deal is worked out, it almost certainly will involve the Timberwolves and Ogden [Entertainment] turning back part of their ticket proceeds into debt payments on the arena" (Patrick Sweeney, St. Paul PIONEER PRESS, 1/10). ST. LOUIS, FRANCHISE THIEFS? Sid Hartman writes that if nothing can be worked out, St. Louis "is waiting with open arms to buy the Timberwolves. And NBA Commissioner David Stern won't have any problem with the Wolves moving to new Kiel Auditorium" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/10).