PICKING THROUGH THE WRECKAGE IN MINNEAPOLIS
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
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).