On Friday night, 15,000 Timberwolves fans received placards as part of a push to get Kevin Love recognition as an MVP candidate. It didn't work so well; the Wolves lost 100-79 to old franchise legend Kevin Garnett and his new team, the Boston Celtics.
Saturday, though, there was renewed hope inside Target Center -- and much different placards scattered throughout the building. The day was reserved for the Timberwolves Open House, an annual event the organization has been putting on for about a decade, according to Jeff Munneke, the team's vice president of fan experience.
It's about rewarding those who have stayed -- such as the couple that has been to roughly 500 consecutive games without missing one and the season-ticket holder from Des Moines who makes the drive up and back for at least 75 percent of the games, Munneke said -- and getting an early hook into those who want to join the club.
It used to be a five-day event in the summer. Now the Wolves keep people moving in and out in different groups in one day. Roughly 500 people showed up over the course of Saturday to move into new seats, roam around or play "lightning," a free-throw-based elimination game, on the court where NBA players do their thing.
Among the draws: Every seat available for season-ticket purchase is marked with a sheet of paper on the chairback, and it is color-coded based on price.
"The best thing about it," Munneke said, standing on the Target Center court, "is that it's just so visual."
Indeed, it's impressive to look out from floor level and see what's available. It's even better to stroll into the stands with a price guide in hand to see what the view looks like from various spots, and to find out how far you can stretch your season-ticket dollar. Being rather populist -- and often cheap when it comes to tickets -- we were mostly curious about the possibilities in the lower price ranges.
Without giving away all of our secrets (since we just might put together a group and get some seats next year), the best values we found were in Sections 234, 230 and 227 -- all in the upper level but all with reasonable views of the court for $344 per year for one ticket ($8 a game over 43 games, including preseason) or $516 ($12 per game).
Of course, in recent losing seasons, none of this has exactly been prime inventory. When the team first moved into Target Center two decades ago, it had close to 15,000 full season-ticket holders, Munneke said. This year, he said, the team's season-ticket base is around 6,000 - which includes only full-season ticket packages.
But the Wolves are close to 8,000 sold already for next year, proving (yeah, no kidding) that a competitive and compelling on-court product helps the bottom line.
It makes the Timberwolves Open House - and Munneke's job - more enjoyable, too.
"I always say the beer is colder and the hot dogs taste better when we're winning," Munneke said.