One is a brilliant businessman and entrepreneur. The other was one of the best baseball players of his generation.
Together, Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez are the next owners of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx. We know that to be true, and now we also know this: They will ask local officials for support in building a new arena in the near future.
Now, they didn't come out and say that exactly Monday when they joined majority owner Glen Taylor on stage at their practice facility at Mayo Clinic Square. When A-Rod was asked about the future of the franchise, he said: "We have no plans to move. We want to be right here."
Both Rodriguez and Lore indicated they will own residences here and will be around the team as much as possible. Rodriguez also said they are "bullish" on the Twin Cities and its corporate firepower. Words will not be enough to keep Wolves fans from feeling a little uneasy about the future of the franchise when the sale of the team involves owners with no local ties. With Seattle and Las Vegas emerging as potential relocation options, there's a possible exit strategy for Lore, 50, and Rodriguez, 46, to activate.
Better start hiring the architects.
Owners don't get into this game without looking at ways to maximize revenue. That can be generated through a state-of-the-art facility with all the bells, whistles and price points. Lore and Rodriguez are no different.
Yes, you are correct. Target Center underwent a $145 million renovation that was completed in 2017. There are new seats, an updated scoreboard and a nice sound system. Guess what? I can vacuum the floor of my Chevy and repair the cigar burns on the seats. At the end of the day, it's still a Chevy. Target Center was originally built in 1990, so it's not surprising that the new owners would want an upgrade.
The team's lease to play in Target Center expires after the 2034-35 season, with a $50 million penalty if owners choose to break it. Fifty million, however, is no huge hurdle in modern pro sports money.
For now, Lore and Rodriguez want to move the Wolves and Lynx into the future in every area. That includes a new arena, as Lore touched on the subject when asked about how he would take advantage of technology at Target Center.
"I think there's great opportunity to eventually build a new arena and infuse it with the latest technology," Lore said. "Some of the things that really excite us — for example, augmented reality. It could be incredible. Could infuse that into the fan experience. But, yeah, there's lot of opportunities, but you do it, you build it from scratch and we're excited about that."
When Allianz Field opened in 2019, it appeared that the proliferation of sports facilities in the Twin Cities had ceased. Since I moved here in 1997, Xcel Energy Center (opened in 2000), Ridder Arena (2002), Huntington Bank Stadium (2009), Target Field (2010), Siebert Field (2013), CHS Field (2015) and U.S. Bank Stadium (2016) changed the spectator sports landscape in this area. The Metrodome was gone, and everyone had their own stadium.
The 2000-2020 construction cycle was remarkable. Now Minnesota's first post-boom project is coming into view.
Lore, following the news conference, did say that the dealing with the arena situation is, "something in the back of our minds. Like, it would be nice one day." That day will inevitably come, perhaps once they pay off the final installment of the purchase agreement with Taylor, which is scheduled for December 2023.
It will be interesting to see how Lore and Rodriguez can impact a Wolves franchise that has made the playoffs just once since 2004 and has bungled numerous drafts and trades. They also get a Lynx franchise that has won four WNBA titles. Can they direct the Wolves back to the postseason while helping the Lynx maintain excellence? Can they make Minnesota a destination spot for top free agents? Can the Wolves win and drive fans back to Target Center, paving the way for an arena deal?
Another stadium debate is coming. Minnesotans who want the new owners to keep their plans for the Wolves to stay here: Get ready to break out the shovels.