Charley Walters: Pohlads poised to be lone local owners in Twin Cities major sports

Charley Walters: Pohlads poised to be lone local owners in Twin Cities major sports

Glen Taylor’s pending sale of the Minnesota Timberwolves means the Twins will be the lone locally owned franchise among NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB teams.

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf are from New Jersey, Wild owner Craig Leipold is from Wisconsin, Wolves suitor Marc Lore is from New Jersey and partner Alex Rodriguez, who is from Miami, is based in New York. Taylor resides in Mankato.

The Pohlad family from Minneapolis owns the Twins.

Taylor, who turns 80 on Tuesday, is sensitive about vacating local ownership.

“I know — I tried really hard to find somebody local because I think that would even be better yet,” he said. “But nobody came forward. I found a couple guys, but they wanted to come in as limiteds (investors).

“I mean, it’s so much money. They were willing to put in a bunch of money, but still it’s so much money.”

Taylor will provide those local names to Lore and Rodriguez.

Taylor confirmed the $1.5 billion purchase price, which includes the WNBA Lynx, for the Pioneer Press.

Taylor remaining as majority owner for two years before Lore and Rodriguez are to take over wasn’t his idea, he said, but that of the prospective owners so they could learn from him. Taylor told them he would leave immediately if that’s what they wanted or stay to advise them. Other suitors who were interested in buying the Wolves also asked Taylor if he would stay for a while should they make a deal.

Taylor wouldn’t confirm, but it’s a good bet that Lore and Rodriguez will use the two years to get their finances in order for the $1.5 billion purchase. It’s also clear that Lore, whose wealth is estimated at nearly $2 billion, will be the primary money partner in the deal, not Rodriguez.

Taylor, worth $2.9 billion, ranks 1,064 among the world’s wealthiest people, according to Forbes’ new valuations.

I asked Glen what’s he going to do with another $1.5 billion.

He paused.

“Pay taxes,” he said. “I hope there’s some left over.”

Fired Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau, who has the Knicks at 29-27 and sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16 games left in the regular season, could be the NBA’s coach of the year. Without Thibs last season, the Knicks finished 21-45.

The Vikings, 11 days from the start of the NFL draft, are expected to take a defensive end or offensive tackle at No. 14 in the first round. They need that player to start right away and are intrigued by 6-6, 298-pound offensive tackle Dillon Radunz from North Dakota State via Becker High School.

But the Vikings are facing a big problem with ex-first round cornerback Jeff Gladney, 24, arrested early this month for assault of a 22-year-old female in Texas.

The best-case scenario for Gladney seems that he’ll able to plead to a lesser charge, then get suspended for half a season. First-round draft picks usually have most of their contracts guaranteed, but Gladney, due to standard conduct clauses, might have forfeited the guarantee.

It could also be that Gladney gets suspended for the entire season, then is released early next year. So a cornerback could also be in the Vikings’ draft plans.

The Twins’ average per-game loss due to COVID-19 at Target Field last season was $928,678, reports pennbets.com, which estimates the Twins’ total loss at $75.2 million, 15th among baseball’s 30 teams.

In 1991, when the Twins won the World Series in seven games against Atlanta, team employees were offered the chance to purchase an original championship trophy for $2,500. Some 50 trophies were made available. On Monday, VSA Auctions is making one of them available with a minimum bid of $1,500.

Freddie Gillespie, 23, the former East Ridge and Carleton-Baylor star, has signed a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors. He had been with the Memphis Hustle in the G League.

Among highlights for recent national Drive, Chip and Putt champion Sammy Udovich, 14, of Inver Grove Heights and St. Croix Lutheran and father Mike at Augusta National during Masters week was meeting former Gophers coach Lou Holtz, 84, who is a member at the famed club.

Mounds View grad Sam Hentges, the 6-8 lefty and son of former Gopher Dave Hentges, was called up by the Cleveland Indians for games in Cincinnati this weekend.

Only two players from the Big Ten — guard Arella Guaranties from Rutgers by the L.A. Sparks and guard Lindsey Pulliam from Northwestern by the Atlanta Dream — were drafted among the WNBA’s 36 picks on Thursday. Meanwhile, former Richfield star Jessica January has signed a training camp contract with the league’s Chicago Sky.

Rennia Davis, the Lynx’s 6-feet-2 first-round draft pick (No. 9 overall) last week from Tennessee, will be paid $64,375 this season, $65,664 in 2022 and $72,231 in 2023. The Lynx have a contract option for $82,081 for 2024.

Dave Winfield for baseball, Chris Weinke for football, Mark Gautschi for basketball, Gene Schultz for boxing, Bill Rossini for hockey, and Joe Gallagher as special award will be inducted into the Mancini’s St. Paul Sports Hall of Fame on June 14 at the Char House. Due to coronavirus pandemic protocols, tickets, which normally sell out at 250, will be limited to 100.

“It’ll be fun — I’ll be with friends and family and my community,” said Winfield, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. “I’m glad to be honored. If it’s safe (virus pandemic), I’ll definitely be there in person.”

Winfield, 69, who resides in Bel Air, Calif., is adviser to the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Tony Clark.

Weinke, 48, the 2000 Heisman Trophy winner at Florida State, is the former QB coach at Tennessee. He was in Tallahassee, Fla., last week visiting his former Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden, who is 91.

Retired Twin Joe Mauer, who becomes eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2024, turns 38 on Monday.

Tom Lehman’s rise from a former Gophers golfer to No. 1 in the world in 1997 was a big hit sharing his story among Capital Club Zoom viewers the other day. Lehman, 62, who has earned $21.5 million playing on PGA tours, did the Zoom from Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, where he is working on a major course remodeling project.

Football’s best play-by-play voice, Kevin Harlan, formerly of the Timberwolves, headlines a Dunkers Zoom meeting on Tuesday morning. Twins executives Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, moderated by baseball’s best play-by-play voice, Cory Provus, are featured in a Dunkers Zoom meeting on April 27.

Don’t be surprised if the NHL’s best radio play-by-play voice, Bob Kurtz, decides to retire after 21 years with the Wild. Kurtz last week lost his father, Bob Sr., who passed away at age 97 in St. Augustine, Fla.

Lake Region State (N.D.) 6-4 sophomore guard Beijing Newbern, son of former Gophers guard Melvin, was named to the Mon-Dak all-region men’s basketball team after averaging 11.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

West St. Paul’s Greg Shepherd, the longtime supervisor of officials for the WCHA, has won the league’s highest honor, the Otto Breitenbach Award for meritorious service.

Happy 80th birthday to St. Paul’s Bill Ivory, the Minnesota State High School League’s Distinguished Service Award winner for his career work in the Catholic Athletic Association and as a longtime highly respected multi-sports official.

Don’t print that

Only two names — Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez — and no limited partners are listed on the Timberwolves sale agreement document. It’s unclear whether the pair will add partners, but Wolves owner Glen Taylor recommended they meet with Meyer Orbach, the Manhattan, N.Y., real estate magnate who owns 20 percent of the Wolves.

Retaining Orbach would greatly assist Lore’s and Rodriguez’s financing, and he’s expected to remain as a Wolves investor. Another current Wolves investor is expected to remain, too.

By the way, when Flip Saunders was hired by the Wolves organization for a second time to coach in 2014, as part of his deal he was given three-tenths of one percent ownership in the team. When Flip died a year later at age 60, wife Debbie retained the stock and put it in a trust. Upon Taylor’s upcoming sale, that would be worth $4.5 million.

Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who is a friend of Taylor and who also owns the White Sox, encouraged Rodriguez to pursue the Timberwolves with Lore. Rodriguez’s biggest proponent when Rodriguez and pal Jennifer Lopez were trying to buy the New York Mets was Reinsdorf. But the Mets were sold to multi-billionaire Steve Cohen for $2.4 million last year.

It could be interesting whether the NBA approves the Timberwolves ownership deal considering Rodriguez has been an admitted sports cheater, having acknowledged using performance-enhancing drugs when he played for the Texas Rangers.

Taylor’s aware.

“I think we’re going to be OK,” he said. “I checked that out with the appropriate people before I signed the document.”

There was little doubt that when ex-Timberwolf Kevin Garnett was making noise about buying the Wolves, his plan was to move them to Seattle.

McKinley Wright, the former Champlin Park point guard who was the Pac-12 player of the year at Colorado and has another year of eligibility, is focused on the NBA rather than a transfer.

Race Thompson, the 6-8, 228-pound former Armstrong star and son of former Gophers football star Darrell Thompson, plans to remain at Indiana rather than transfer. He’s a redshirt junior.

The recruiter who got Gabe Kalscheur to transfer from the Gophers to Iowa State was Cyclones assistant Kyle Green, the former Minneapolis Washburn and Hamline University player.

Hockey people who should know say it’s inexplicable that the Wild didn’t get rookie star Kirill Kaprizov offensive help before last week’s NHL trading deadline. But that’ll happen for sure in the offseason.

Meanwhile, the Wild and Kaprizov’s representation aren’t talking financial numbers yet about a contract extension but have been discussing range of years. There’s nothing close to an agreement, though.

If conditions stay the same, odds are likely that Wild winger Zach Parise, 36, who has four years remaining on his contract, will either be traded, taken by Seattle in the July 21 NHL expansion draft or bought out. All that’s left on Parise’s initial $98 million, 13-year deal after this season are per-year salaries of $6 million, $2 million, $1 million and $1 million.

Each of the nine players the Vikings signed in the offseason received just one-year contracts except for Dalvin Tomlinson, and his deal is for only two years. That, some people figure, indicates team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf want to see how next season plays out before committing long-term to the current roster.

The 49ers trading to move up to No. 3 overall in next week’s NFL draft finally ruled out any possible trade of Vikings QB Kirk Cousins to San Francisco.

The Vikings, who, interestingly, haven’t re-signed backup QB Sean Mannion, 28, have spent a lot of time scouting and analyzing QBs for next week’s draft and are expected to take one in the third- or fourth-round.

In 2012, when Washington picked QB Robert Griffin III in the first round, the team also picked Cousins in the fourth round. Cousins subsequently beat out RG3.

QB Teddy Bridgewater, 28, of Carolina is a 6-1 odds bet to be traded to the Vikings if he’s moved before the start of next season, says BetOnline.ag. Favored are the Broncos at 3-2 odds.

With the still strong possibility of landing 7-feet-1 Chet Holmgren from Minnehaha Academy, Gonzaga already is favored at 9-1 odds to win next year’s NCAA men’s basketball championship, by BetOnline.ag. The Gophers, by the way, are 200-1. Look for Holmgren to announce for Gonzaga soon.

Speaking of Gonzaga, John Gagliardi, the iconic late St. John’s football coach, before moving to Collegeville coached the Carroll College (Helena, Mont.) basketball team to an 88-86 upset victory over Gonzaga. That was in 1952.

Matthew Hurt, the Rochester Marshall grad who plans to enter July’s NBA draft, is projected to be a second-round pick.

Ticket brokers working on-site at Target Field for the Twins’ opening series against Seattle were disappointed. With attendance limited to 10,000 for coronavirus protocols, there were hardly any buyers for Saturday’s game and brokers had to eat some product. Tickets were available on StubHub for $6.

Overheard

Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, 69, of St. Paul on the coronavirus pandemic: “I’m glad to see baseball back. Last year was the first year I think in my life that I hadn’t been to a professional or collegiate or high school sporting event. Hopefully we’re getting back on track.”

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