When the NBA season opens next month, the Timberwolves won’t have any fans in attendance at Target Center for at least the first part of the season because of the coronavirus, COO Ryan Tanke said Saturday.
Tanke said the Wolves will continue to work with state and local health officials and is hopeful at some point in the coming season they can allow some number of fans in the arena.
“We can’t wait until we can bring them back,” Tanke said. “It’s got to be safety first and we got to make sure that we’re following both local government and league protocols to do so when and if it becomes safe to do so.”
Tanke wasn’t sure how long fans won’t be allowed in the arena, but added that it would be a gradual ramp up of fans if they are allowed in at some point. He said the team is working on getting a limited number of family and friends of players into the building for games.
“Our hope is that as the schedule comes out and as the season structure becomes clear that we’ll be able to start the season with some limited number of family inside the building,” Tanke said. “And then we’ve got a plan in place that when it becomes safe to do so to begin scaling additional fans into the building in a socially distanced environment.”
Tanke added that those who purchased season tickets for the 2020-21 season will have those options deferred to the 2021-22 season and those fans would have first access to any seat locations that open up this season. But Tanke added: “We’re not going to force anybody into a season they may not be comfortable with so many unknowns.”
As for compensating game-day employees, the Wolves don’t operate Target Center and most workers are employed by ASM Global while food vendors work under Levy Restaurants. The Wolves and Lynx did set up a relief fund in March of $1 million from owner Glen Taylor to help make up lost revenue for those who work in the building.
Tanke said even without fans there will still be a substantial number of workers in the building on gamedays.
“Just like we’re planning to return fans and bring media safely into the building, what are the protocols in terms of safely bringing game-night staff in?” Take said. “Depending on what access levels you have, [that] could include some level of testing.”