After several seasons in which both the Lynx and Timberwolves did poorly on the court and at the box office, owner Glen Taylor seems to have hit the jackpot with both teams.
The Lynx won the WNBA title and showed a profit for the first time in their existence. And while the Wolves are 3-7, they have been competitive in almost every game against some of the top teams in the NBA and they also are setting records at the gate.
On Tuesday night, the game with the Bulls was the first sellout of any Timberwolves game played between Monday and Thursday (not including home openers) since March 3, 2004, against Seattle. The gross gate was over $800,000, according to one Wolves official, one of the highest takes in a long, long time.
Right now Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are big stars in this town, and even non- basketball fans are attending the games, just to see what everybody is raving about.
In the Wolves' entire existence, I have never seen a packed Target Center lobby like Tuesday night. People were lined up outside on the sidewalk trying to get in.
The enthusiasm of a good Timberwolves crowd is second only to the Williams Arena throngs back when the Gophers have had good basketball teams and were beating Indiana and Illinois.
Taylor, who spends his winter vacationing in Florida with family and has been to all but a couple of the home games, said he never expected not only the good start of the team, but also the fan interest.
"I'm really pleased with the way we've started out this year," Taylor said. "There's certainly hope. We have a great coach, and I just feel comfortable that he'll bring this team around. It's probably started a lot better than I anticipated."
Taylor praised president of basketball operations David Kahn, who did a good job in hiring coach Rick Adelman and also talked about how Kahn "had a lot of faith in Ricky Rubio, which appears as if it's going to pay off. We'll see if some of our other guys can keep developing, and if they can, we should have a very good team.
"There were guys that had played with [Rubio] who said that he would play very well [in the NBA], but I just think that he stepped in so fast and is willing to play so well under pressure is what has surprised everybody."
Taylor, while recalling Kevin Garnett being very popular as a rookie, said he believed Rubio has to be the most popular rookie with the fans of any in the Wolves' 23 seasons.
What is going on at Target Center reminds me of the days the Minneapolis Lakers packed the old Minneapolis Auditorium for every game the first year and continued for a long time. The only difference is that the Lakers won titles from the start.
But with Adelman at the helm, it won't be long before the Wolves will be contenders.Forget about Shakopee
As for the viability of Shakopee as a site for a new Vikings stadium at this late date, forget about it.
Wednesday's news conference, held by new Mayor Brad Tabke, was just a great grandstand act.
But there are some good things going on with the Minneapolis sites. Last Monday night, top Twin Cities business leaders had a meeting at the Minneapolis Club and a downtown stadium was discussed. Those leaders are doing a lot of contacting of politicians and trying to help in getting a deal done.
While the Linden Avenue site might be the only hope for the stadium to be built in Minneapolis, Vikings owners realize there is some opposition from the people at the Basilica of St. Mary. But the Vikings have had conversations with the Rev. John Bauer, the rector of the Basilica, and they have been working with him.
"We're working with him on making sure that the Basilica issues get addressed," said Lester Bagley, vice president of public affairs/stadium development for the Vikings. "It didn't help today when one of the parishioners took a shot at Zygi [Wilf] by saying, 'Why would we ruin this institution for a East Coast developer who doesn't live here?'
"That's what your newspaper put on the front page of the paper today, and it's not a representative feeling of the Basilica group. ... But they apologized profusely about those comments towards the Vikings owner."
Bagley is confident the Vikings can satisfy everybody connected with the Basilica if land near the famous church is chosen as the stadium site.
"The leadership of the Basilica and the pastor believe there are legitimate issues, and they will be and can be addressed if the stadium is built there," Bagley said. "I think those issues are legitimate but they can be resolved, and if the stadium goes there, they will be resolved."Jottings
• Apparently, former Vikings coach Brad Childress had some good endorsements from the Tampa Bay Area press when he recently interviewed for the Buccaneers head coaching job. Childress told the Tampa Bay Times that "[The Bucs] have a good, young football team. I liked Josh [Freeman] when he came out of college. If you don't have a quarterback, you are always looking for one. I believe he can be that guy, and I like him a lot."
• Former Gophers defense- man Keith Ballard played in his 500th NHL game Monday night in the Canucks' 2-1 loss to Florida. Ballard has one goal and six assists in 39 games this season. ... Former Gophers defenseman Chris Harrington is playing for the Oji Eagles in Japan.
• Connor Schaefbauer will be joining the Gophers baseball team next season as a shortstop, but he is currently a part of the No. 1-ranked high school basketball team in South Dakota. Schaefbauer is the leading scorer for Sioux Falls O'Gorman, which is 9-2 overall in Class AA and has a 47-game winning streak against in-state opponents.
• Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano has pitched in two games for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. Liriano has posted a 8.31 ERA in 4 1/3 innings and has a 0-2 record so far.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org