Will A-Rod Keep the Timberwolves in Minnesota?

Photo: Michael Heiman - Getty Images

If you haven’t heard yet, Alex Rodriguez and his good friend, Marc Lore, are entering the process of buying the Minnesota Timberwolves from Glen Taylor, who has owned the team since 1994. According to The Athletic, A-Rod and Lore are reportedly 50/50 partners and will be paying a total of $1.5 billion for the bottom-feeder NBA franchise.

But since the news broke on Saturday evening, only one question has been on the minds of Minnesota basketball fans.

Will A-Rod keep the Timberwolves in Minnesota?

Much like Shrek, this question has a lot of layers. First, it’s clear that Rodriguez and Lore have verbally promised Glen Taylor that they will keep the franchise in Minnesota. That’s a good start. But Glen signing deals based on staring contests isn’t good enough for this fanbase anymore. Been there, heard that. There needs to be more this time… and there supposedly is.

Taylor has made it clear he will do the best he can to keep the Wolves in Minneapolis. He’s told reporters tonight and in the past, that keeping the team here will be written into the agreement. The legality and reality of something like that, however, has already come into question. Can you force someone not to move something they own? Even if you try, would it hold up in court? Would the NBA approve it?

“You could have some contingencies … and I’m sure there could be a provision that relates to keeping the team in place,” said Eldon Ham, an author and professor of sports law at Chicago-Kent College of Law. “But I don’t think it would be able to extend forever.”

At the crux of any guarantee to keep the Wolves in Minnesota would be how long that guarantee would last or how harsh the financial penalty would be for breaking it. Ham said any kind of agreement that makes outlandish demands, like a 30-year promise to keep the team in Minnesota, might not make it past league approval, which requires a $1 million fee just to apply, he said.

Star Tribune – Christopher Hine

Yes they could, but….

At the end of the day, if new ownership wants to move the Timberwolves out of Minnesota, they probably can. But as Jon Krawczynski reminds us below, it won’t be easy to do so and this deal doesn’t go through tomorrow. In fact, Rodriguez and Lore won’t become majority owners for another 2.5 years. During that time, Taylor will be “mentoring” them and the two will hold only minority shares. If he sniffs an eagerness to leave town, Taylor to pull the plug on the entire project.

According to Jon, the A-Rod and Lore will also be making “major investments in MN” throughout this process, and talks of doing such are already underway.

Let’s remember, the NBA wants to EXPAND into places like Seattle and Las Vegas, not move teams there. Especially a team that has a proven fanbase like Minnesota. The NBA can sell tickets and jerseys here if a good product is on the floor. Why pull money out of a profitable market? It doesn’t make sense for the entirety of the NBA.

So if A-Rod and Lore want to move the Timberwolves out of Minnesota anytime soon, they’ll really have to be dedicated to doing so. It’d cost them a lot of money and a lot of headaches. If this buying group wanted to operate a sports franchise outside of Minnesota… they’d probably just wait for their opportunity to buy one outside of Minnesota.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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