The Minnesota Timberwolves have injected themselves into the debate over taxpayer money for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.
Ted Johnson is the chief marketing officer of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who’s asking the team’s fans to put the squeeze on lawmakers for a Vikings bill because it contains money for renovating Target Center.
Supporters of the idea will quickly point out that the city of Minneapolis owns Target Center, although opponents might point that when you spend money to rescue a franchise threatening to move — the city bought Target Center when the Wolves’ previous owners were threatening to move to New Orleans in the early ’90s — you can easily get stuck with a crumbling building that’s eclipsed in the music world by the Xcel Center in Saint Paul.
Target Center is losing money for the city and at a news conference last year, the head of the company that manages it said spending money fixing it up will help it be “relevant.”
That’s something the chief tenant — the Timberwolves — haven’t been in years, and when its owner — Mankato’s Glenn Taylor — was asked how much he’d contribute to the deal, he didn’t answer, saying only the team will “be upfront” about how much it would contribute. That was the last we’ve heard of it.
And that’s an important part of the equation in the stadium bill because the question of how much money a wealthy owner should contribute to a project that benefits him is very much at the heart of the debate. And Zygi Wilf, the Vikings’ owner, is a very rich man, with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.
Glenn Taylor is no Zygi Wilf. His net worth is $1.8 billion. Only 255 people in the U.S. are richer.