SBD/24/Franchises

WITH SALE FINALLY SEALED, T-WOLVES LOOK TO THE FUTURE

     Minneapolis officials finalized the buyout of the Target
Center Wednesday, also completing the T-Wolves sale to Glen
Taylor for $88.5M.  In keeping with Taylor's plans to make the
franchise profitable, the team is reportedly looking into using
"virtual billboards" to increase revenue.  Virtual billboards
allow for ads that are seen on TV, but which aren't displayed in
the arena.  Wolves President Rob Moor:  "The revenues just
quadrupled in terms of our corporate signage."  Sam McCleery,
Marketing VP for Princeton Electronic Billboards, says his
virtual billboard product has passed tests and they are "close to
contracting" with an National League team to use the system this
year.  The "new" Wolves organization is also looking at other
ways to increase revenue, including acquiring an NHL team,
developing the area around the Target Center, changing the team
logo.  One possibility for redevelopment includes "perhaps
incorporating a Niketown or Sony superstore" and other
attractions around the arena.  Also, team officials speculated
that in-arena attractions, sponsored by business interests, could
draw more fans games.  Moor:  "Sports traditionally has been such
a stick-in-the-mud industry" (Bruce Orwall, ST. PAUL PIONEER-
PRESS, 3/23).
     LACE 'EM UP?  As part of the buyout, Taylor has first chance
at owning any NHL team that might move to the Twin Cities.
Taylor is responsible for paying the building's property taxes,
and another revenue-maker in the facility would lessen that
burden.  Taylor:  "My first goal is to get [a team] here.  I
don't have to own it all."  Target Center Exec Dir Dana Warg
meets with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman today.  Warg claims two
MN-based groups are interested in the Jets (Jay Weiner,
Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 3/23).
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