With teams like the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, and Charlotte Hornets all adding Development League teams for next season, it is clear that the NBA is moving toward each team having its own exclusive affiliate. With the abundance of young talent on the Minnesota Timberwolves, having their own affiliate makes perfect sense. That said, this begs the question, where will it be hosted?
Rochester, Minnesota has emerged as the front runner to land the Timberwolves' affiliate. The Rochester Amateur Sports Commission and executive director Ed Hruska was given a deadline of January 6th to submit the necessary paperwork and is now waiting to hear back from the team and Timberwolves President Chris Wright.
"One thing I can remember when Chris looked at the facility is he said it's a bit tired," Hruska told the Rochester Post Bulletin. "There's a lot of options out there and ours is 30 years old, so we're not super equipped to do this right now. It's not the ideal situation is kind of the sense I got from him. But (Rochester) is close, it's in the state, and there's already the Mayo (Clinic) relationship."
Hruska brings up some very valid points for why Rochester has a good shot at landing the bid, but also why they could very well lose it instead. The Timberwolves have a great relationship with the largest employer in the city in the Mayo Clinic. Their logo can be seen at every press conference and press release, in addition to Mayo's sponsorship of the Minnesota Lynx. If there is any city that has a working relationship with the Timberwolves, it is Rochester.
The largest downside to choosing Rochester is the lack of facilities. While the Mayo Civic Center hosts high school tournaments and other events, the venue is over 30 years old. Despite being in the middle of an $84 million face-lift, other cities locally that have college facilities, like Mankato, could still be a more attractive destination. Another option is that the team starts from scratch like the Toronto Raptors did with the Raptors 905, but that seems unlikely with an option as perfect as Rochester.
This option just seems too perfect for the Timberwolves. The city of Rochester is in the middle of a major revival called Destination Medical Center that will see about $6 billion poured into the city. This initiative is expected to not only make the city a better place but also double its population by 2035. In addition to this, they are in the early stages of possibly tearing down the Taylor Arena in the Civic Center to make way for a multipurpose arena in hopes of enticing a United States Hockey League team to town. Pair all of this with it being just 90 minutes away from the Target Center and you have a match made in D-League heaven.