target centerWhen Glen Taylor — who also owns the Star Tribune — purchased the Timberwolves in 1994, the reported purchase price was $90 million.

More than two decades later, a lot has changed across the professional sports landscape, including the NBA. Salaries have skyrocketed, but so have television deals. The latter has had a huge influence on franchise values — and Forbes’ listing of those NBA values recently is a good reflection of that.

The Timberwolves, per Forbes, are now worth $770 million — an astounding figure, particularly when measured against the purchase price of 23 years ago. Adjusted for inflation, $90 million in 1994 is worth $149 million in today’s dollars.

$770 million is a whole bunch more. (You’re welcome).

What’s also interesting, though, is that the Wolves’ value is the second-lowest in the NBA. The Knicks, who of course play in the largest market, have the highest valuation at $3.3 billion. The Lakers are second at $3 billion. Neither franchise has had much success in recent years, but that doesn’t seem to matter. It’s all about market size and TV revenue.

Television revenue also helps explain why the Wolves — despite not making the playoffs more more than a decade and lagging near or at the bottom of NBA attendance — are worth nearly twice as much as the Wild ($400 million), a franchise that has had far more success both on the ice and in the stands.

The NBA’s nine-year TV deal, which took effect this season, is reportedly worth $2.66 billion per year. The last national U.S. television contract signed between the NHL and NBC in 2011 was worth $200 million pear year. The NHL also has a lucrative TV contract in Canada, but the combined deals come nowhere near matching the NBA’s new deal.

It will be interesting to see, too, the impact a renovated Target Center has on the Timberwolves’ value in future years.

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