Minnesota Timberwolves’ on-court success expands fan base, brand and revenue

The growth of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ brand this past season, fueled by the team’s journey to the NBA’s Western Conference finals — only their second appearance in franchise history — is showing up in the team’s bank account.

The team declined to provide specific revenue figures for this past season but said its total revenue reached a new high. The organization, whose value has risen 87% from $1.57 billion in 2021 to $2.9 billion, saw a flurry of merchandise sales, more expensive regular and postseason tickets sales and sponsorship revenue during that time.

And the Wolves expect to break those records during the upcoming season, said Chief Operating Officer Ryan Tanke. Specifically, he said, the team has a huge opportunity to land a new jersey patch sponsor after its three-year deal with Aura, an identity protection company in Boston, expires at the end of the season.

The value of NBA jersey patch deals has grown significantly since the league first approved them in 2017. Deals are now landing in the range of $5 million to $20 million per year, with an average of $10 million expected for the 2024-2025 season, according to industry reports.

Tanke expects the team will announce a new jersey patch sponsor by the end of summer.

“There’s a lot of interest, I would imagine, as our team’s success and our national and international profile continue to lift,” Tanke said.

The team’s fanbase has a sizable geographic reach. Entering the 2023-2024 season, the Timberwolves boasted the nation’s largest fan base of any NBA team by number of counties, with 270 counties choosing the team as their favorite, according data compiled by ticket provider Vivid Seats. The team’s fan domain stretches beyond Minnesota into Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and western Wisconsin. The Timberwolves’ NBA G League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, plays in Des Moines.

An expanding out-of-metro fan base is driving ticket sales, Tanke said.

“Predominately, people that are attending games are much closer to the metro, but we started to see that expand, particularly weekend games, when people were making weekend trips into the Twin Cities and building a trip to visit around a T-Wolves game.”

This past season, the Wolves had 41 consecutive sellouts at Target Center, the most since the team’s inaugural season in 1990. Since then, the team has converted newcomers and casual fans into season ticket holders.

The Timberwolves announced earlier this week they sold out full- and half-season ticket passes in Target Center’s lower bowl for the upcoming season, tallying 3,500 more new season ticket memberships than the previous year.

For the first time in more than 30 years, the Timberwolves have more than 10,000 full season ticket memberships, Tanke said. By the start of the new season, they should approach 11,000, he said.

Quarter-season ticket membership — which includes 10 games, playoff priority access and a complimentary subscription for NBA League Pass — are still available.

As part of an eight-figure investment for renovation at Target Center, the team is turning the former Cargo Food Authority restaurant into a 500-person premium seating area called Backcourt Club, Tanke said. The money will also pay for upgrades to the Lexus Courtside Club, another premium seating area.

“Everything that we’ve been trying to achieve over the past several years is all baked into this idea of doubling our fan base over a five-year period of time,” Tanke said. “This season certainly accelerated that.”

First appeared on www.startribune.com

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