Nobody knows how to make a buck like Glen Taylor

Glen Taylor, the longtime owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, may not be very proficient at building NBA championship teams, but he sure knows how to make money.

Taylor, who also served in the Minnesota Legislature, has become one of the richest men in America by controlling the country’s wedding-invitation-printing industry, from his homestead in Mankato, Minn. He bought the Star Tribune. With cash.

But even though the Timberwolves are one of the worst teams in the NBA, with an attendance at the bottom of the heap, owning the NBA team is like printing money now.

ESPN reports today that Taylor, who’s not getting any younger, has sold a minority interest in the team to Lizhang Jiang, a Shanghai-based businessman, that puts the value of the team at $1 billion.

That’s an astounding figure, considering that Forbes, which annually tracks such things, put the value of the squad at $625 million a year ago last January. That’s a 60 percent jump in value in 18 months. That’s on top of the 45 percent increase in value for the Timberwolves over the previous 12 months.

Much of that increase in value comes from a new TV rights deal. Much of it comes from the value of what NBA teams have sold for in recent years (thank you, Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks).

Taylor bought out his fellow local investors in 2013 and was looking for local ownership to take over the franchise in the long term, but the NBA is out of the league of almost all Minnesota moneymakers now.

Last year, Taylor announced he intended to sell 30 percent of the Timberwolves to Steve Kaplan, a minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies. That deal fell apart in May.

It’s a safe bet that Taylor made a killing because it did.

  • Gary F

    And, unlike Target, 3M, Ace Hardware, and the rest of the private sector who have to pay for their place of business, the taxpayers subsidize the buildings for professional sports teams. Good job if you can get it.

  • Jeff

    I think the Star Tribune operation has improved under Glen Taylor…it’s still pretty far left of center but at least now they aren’t omitting right wing views like they had in the past and you will see decent articles appear in that paper once in a while.

    No billionaire should be given millions of tax payer dollars to support a local team, I don’t care which sport it is. BTW, my employer doesn’t receive corporate welfare from the government, let’s not make the assumption that every business/corporation gets corporate welfare.

    • who’s your employer

      • Jeff

        I’d prefer not to say the name but the company develops software in the suburbs and we have less than 100 employees. As far as I know they are not receiving any grants, subsidies, tax credits (outside of the normal deductions all businesses get)…or sweetheart deals, the remaining 2 owners were forced to go out and find an investor a few years ago when the 3rd owner sold off his share of the company. In 2009, they were forced to fire 10% of the company due to the dip in the economy and we were put on a pay freeze for about 3-4 years. I still haven’t seen more than a 3% raise in the past 5-6 years due to the economic situation…welcome to the real world in the private sector with a small-medium sized business.

        • Thomas Mercier

          I wish I could see a 3% raise. We’ve been on no COLA and a maximum 2% merit based increase theme for most of the last 5 years. And we’re still getting told to do more with less and less. Welcome to government.

          • Jeff

            No, I had 1 3% raise (just this last year) most other years we were limited to 2% or less and we had salary freezes from 2009-2012. I’m guessing you’re a teacher who gets step and lane increases…on top of your “limited 2%” increases.

          • Thomas Mercier

            I’m not sure how you guessed that, but no.

          • Jeff

            Just took a shot since that’s the most common government job in this state…what area of government do you work then where you’re facing cuts and only 2% increases? Did you get those increases in 2009-2012??? We didn’t see any increases during those years.

          • I don’t know what Thomas Mercier does but that’s about what public radio has experienced . 2% raise is pretty good.

            BTW, is that a misprint above? You got a 13% raise?

          • Jeff

            The spaces don’t quite look right, one 3% raise…this year.

          • Thomas Mercier

            We had our years with no COLA and no merit if I remember correctly, I became FT in 2010. We’ve had boards who wish to retain the same total bonding amount (capital + operational) or only modest increases which when considered in combination with health cost increases and other unavoidable increases increasing the cost of doing business while also expanding operations to attempt to rectify historical imbalances all combines to make for a tight budget. This is why you won’t find garbage cans in the picnic areas of west suburban regional parks, just a dumpster in the parking lot.

    • crystals

      Define “corporate welfare,” please. (I truly am not sure what specifically you’re trying to throw shade on.)

      • Jeff

        Sure, I’d be happy to! Specific tax credits that only apply to specific industries (alternative energy tax credits), direct payments to a business from local governments (i.e. Vikings stadium), exempting certain taxes (property taxes for example) for creating a facility in that area. Examples of things that are NOT corporate subsidies are the standard tax deductions that ALL eligible businesses take advantage of such as deductions for wages, materials, loss in value of property/equipment and health insurance deductions.

        • crystals

          Thank you! Appreciate it.

          • Jeff

            Does that seem to make sense? Does that match up with what you think qualifies as a corporate subsidy or do you have other ideas that maybe I wasn’t thinking of?

          • crystals

            Yes, very helpful! I was wondering about tax increment financing (TIFs), for example. I assume that’s included in what you noted above? That’s something that I have mixed feelings on…it can certainly help generate development, but it often seems to benefit places that can actually afford the full costs (they just don’t WANT to pay full costs) and then schools, for example, are stuck without the benefit of those property taxes for YEARS.

            I generally struggle a bit when things are termed “welfare” (generally as an insult), and especially without it being clear what the benefits actually are – so corporate subsidy feels like a much more accurate way to describe it.

          • Jeff

            Yes, I would include TIFs in my examples above. Yeah, I like using the term “subsidy” instead of welfare but I want to clearly define it because many people want to attempt to include standard business tax deductions into that “subsidy” category but I believe that is the wrong way to look at it. Certain things like the mineral depletion allowance is a debatable issue but attacking certain industries for using it, like fossil fuel producers, is wrong since many other industries and individuals use that deduction for mining minerals or harvesting trees. We could have a reasonable discussion about removing that deduction from the tax code but I don’t like it when people demonize the oil/gas industry when they use it while having no problem with individuals or other industries using that same tax deduction.

            Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

    • Jack

      Sorry but tax deductions are welfare to those who are receiving them. Just because “everyone” has them, doesn’t make it not welfare.

      Not every company has Research and Development but do get to support those companies that do.

      On the personal side of the ledger, not every individual taxpayer has mortgage interest that can be itemized. Those of us not having that deduction are supporting the “welfare” of those who do.

      • Jeff

        Sure, I advocate for removing the mortgage interest deduction and replacing it with a much larger standard deduction. The tax code shouldn’t be handing out credits, or paying people to do their taxes; let the welfare system do that but I think we could protect the lowest income people from having to use welfare by letting everyone keep the first $20,000 of income without paying any taxes (making that the standard deduction) then having higher tax rates (20% or so) beyond that $20k/year deduction. I’d also suggest we need another bracket or two above the 20% maybe 25% or 30% as the increase in the tax rate stagnates at higher incoem levels. One more thing is that we should set the capital gains tax rates at the same rate as normal income tax rates.

  • Khatti

    Comfrey Minnesota’s Pride & Joy.