Hoping to lure the National Basketball Association to town, Rochester has applied to host the Timberwolves’ Development League team if the Wolves ever decide to create one, said Ed Hruska, the executive director of the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission.
The 19 teams in the D-League have NBA affiliations, but the Wolves have yet to field their own. A Wolves D-League team could play in the Mayo Civic Center’s Taylor Arena, Hruska said, but the city’s application has also fueled fresh speculation over a $75 million plan to rebuild Taylor.
The rebuild plan got a lukewarm reception when it was first presented to the City Council in October. Back then, it was pitched as a way to draw a United States Hockey League team.
“With the possible addition of a basketball team that certainly ups the stakes,” said Rochester City Council President Randy Staver. He said it’s still too early to know if either team will come to Rochester, or what that means for Taylor Arena.
matt mckinney @_mattmckinney
Beargrease sled dog race start moved to Two Harbors
For the fourth time in a decade, the starting line of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon this year will begin in Two Harbors instead of Duluth.
Snow depths in Duluth are about 4-5 inches, and “the dogs need a lot more cushion under them,” said spokesman Jason Rice.
So instead the race will start on Sunday, Jan. 31, about 9 miles north of Two Harbors near a gravel pit on County Hwy. 2, a spot that has served as a checkpoint for many years.
The race will wind about 350 miles total, up to a spot near Grand Portage and back to finish in Duluth.
About 15 teams were signed up for the full race, with a winner expected sometime midday the following Wednesday, Rice said. Sixteen teams were signed up for a mid-distance race ending on the Gunflint Trail.
Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie
Minnesota area advances in national competition
The Chisago Lakes area is a semifinalist in a national “Best Communities” competition, officials announced Wednesday. The area includes Chisago, Lindstrom, Center City, Shafer and Taylors Falls.
The competition awards money for the best plans for community improvement, according to a news release. The Chisago Lakes area’s plan focuses on boosting broadband Internet access, adding to trails and marketing the region.
During the next round of the competition, sponsored by corporations including Frontier Communications, eight communities will get $100,000 to implement their plans.
The grand prize is $3 million. About 350 communities across the country entered.
Jenna Ross @ByJenna