Timberwolves win fight to sell ads on arena wall

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2010 - 7:33 AM

A judge's ruling gives the team control of ad space on a wall facing Target Field.

The Minnesota Timberwolves won two big ones at home -- the battle to sell advertising space facing Target Field and the weenie war.

A Hennepin County judge has allowed the team to erect signs on Target Center's hulking wall on Second Avenue in Minneapolis. The previously empty space on the arena's north side will soar in value starting Monday when the Twins take the field for their official home opener in their new park.

Thousands of Twins spectators will see the wall when they look toward right field. Television viewers worldwide will see it, as well, as will pedestrians in the plaza below the wall.

In the aftermath of the ruling issued March 26, Timberwolves CEO Rob Moor said Tuesday that the team is talking to possible sponsors and is in no hurry to throw up a sign. "The ballpark is going be there a while, and so are we," Moor said.

Last November, the Timberwolves sued Target Center operator AEG Management MN, seeking rights to sell advertising space on that wall after AEG denied the team's request to do so.

In an effort to bolster their argument, the Timberwolves noted that Target Center's naming rights are up for renewal in 2011. The team controls the naming rights and is locked into the arena through 2025.

Moor testified: "If the team cannot represent to prospective arena name sponsors that it can ensure placement of the sponsor's advertisements on a new sign facing Target Field, the value of the naming rights will be diluted."

The city owns the building but wasn't involved in the lawsuit. The Timberwolves' owners said the operating agreements gave them advertising rights. AEG contended that it has the right to new advertising opportunities.

The court order said the Timberwolves have the authority to erect an exterior sign -- with AEG's consent, which cannot "be unreasonably withheld." AEG's withholding of consent is unreasonable, the court found.

AEG's Twin Cities-based lawyer, Todd Wind, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. AEG is an affiliate of Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group.

The Timberwolves also won the dog fight.

The team claimed AEG interfered with its exclusive rights to sell advertising and product sponsorship by negotiating in 2009 with Dietz & Watson to sell hot dogs and reaching a similar agreement with Aliki Pizza.

The Timberwolves already were in negotiations with Klements to sell hot dogs, but AEG notified the team that certain categories of concessions -- including hot dogs -- were closed.

The court said AEG must sell team-sponsored products during Timberwolves' games and doesn't have the right to "close" categories of concessions.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

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