Twenty-nine years after the Lakers moved west, the Land of 10,000 Lakes officially is home to a National Basketball Assn. franchise.
Owners Harvey Ratner and Marv Wolfenson said today that they met today’s deadline for the second installment of their $32.5-million NBA expansion franchise fee by wiring $16.25 million to the NBA. The payment enables the Minnesota Timberwolves to begin play in the 1989-90 season, assuming that the owners have met other NBA criteria.
“Today we officially have the NBA back in Minnesota,” Ratner said in a statement. “It is a credit to the Timberwolves staff and to area fans. We could not have accomplished the league’s requirements without the support of state and local officials, and particularly, Timberwolves fans.”
Ratner and Wolfenson said they also made a $100,000 non-refundable deposit when making application for the franchise in 1986; a $3.15-million payment in the summer of 1987 and a $13-million installment Dec. 1, 1988.
Timberwolves President Bob Stein has said that half the total $32.5-million franchise fee came from the pockets of Wolfenson and Ratner and half is bank financing.
NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said this morning that he expects no problems with the final payment.
The Timberwolves said they have also met the NBA’s requirements that they sell at least 10,000 season tickets with at least 50% payment by Dec. 31, 1988, sign radio and television contracts, finalize leasing and scheduling agreements in their home arena and make adequate progress in the construction of their new arena.
The Lakers played in Minnesota for 12 years before moving to Los Angeles, where NBA-great Jerry West and the Los Angeles franchise began their rookie seasons in 1961.