SBD/December 23, 2013/People and Pop Culture

T'Wolves Co-Founder Marv Wolfenson Dies, Brought NBA Back To Minnesota In '87

Wolfenson (r) and his business partner came close to buying the Jazz in the '80s
T'Wolves co-Founder MARV WOLFENSON, who with his "lifelong business partner brought the NBA back to Minnesota," died Saturday in California at the age of 87, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Wolfenson and team co-Founder HARVEY RATNER "purchased an NBA expansion franchise in 1987 and then privately financed the construction of Target Center, which opened as the home for their fledgling Timberwolves three years later." They partnered for 54 years and early in their business careers "helped try to keep the Minneapolis Lakers from moving away to California" in '60. Wolfenson and Ratner in the early '80s "pursued the Twins before CARL POHLAD bought them and a few years later they came within hours of striking a deal" to buy the Jazz. The two eventually paid $32.5M for an "expansion franchise, saying they wanted to return the NBA to Minnesota." The costs of building Target Center "overextended them financially and forced the pair to sell the team." The duo in '94 "struck a deal with a New Orleans group that planned to move the Wolves after only five seasons of existence." But NBA Commissioner DAVID STERN stepped in and "brokered a deal that sold the team" for $88M to current Owner GLEN TAYLOR. The city of Minneapolis "bought Target Center the next year" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/22). In St. Paul, Andy Greder noted despite Wolfenson not having a T'Wolves stake for nearly 20 years, "as recently as last month, the first thing he did each morning was put on his Wolves hat and his credential." T'Wolves President CHRIS WRIGHT said, "That's pretty meaningful. Shows how close he felt to our team." Wright, who has a picture of Wolfenson on his desk, said, "It was his life. It was his passion, even when Glen owned the team" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/22). 
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