Wolves Monday: Team in town for camp

BY foxsports • September 24, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS – Welcome to what should be the first of many Timberwolves blog posts this season. We're trying something new at FOX Sports North this year with the launch of this blog, and you'll be able to differentiate these stories based on their headlines, which will follow the “Timberwolves + day of the week” formula. Very clever, we know.

So read them, enjoy them (we hope), comment on them, and I will try to get as much extra information packed into these things as possible.

Now, on to business.

The Timberwolves will begin training camp next week in Mankato. They'll be posted up there from Oct. 2-5, and media day is next Monday, Oct. 1. Expect a deluge of stories beginning next week, but the info will begin before that. Kevin Love has returned to the Twin Cities and will be speaking to the media tomorrow. He'll also be throwing out the first pitch at Wednesday's Twins game against the Yankees.

Much of the rest of the team has arrived, as well. Brandon Roy has been in town for nearly a month now, and Chase Budinger, Malcolm Lee and Nikola Pekovic were also early arrivers. Free agent Anthony Tolliver, who's still waiting for a deal (from the Timberwolves or one of a number of other teams), has been working out in Minnesota all summer. Derrick Williams is now back, and Ricky Rubio has returned from a checkup in Vail, Colo,, and is present with the team. Other players have been trickling in recently and will continue to join the Timberwolves this week.


Time for some number-crunching. Timberwolves single-game tickets are now on sale, and after a 2011-12 season in which the team's attendance numbers and ticket sales improved dramatically, let's look back at overall league attendance since the inception of the Timberwolves. It's actually pretty interesting to see what's happened to the league over that time, and now, a year after the lockout, we can be even more confident that it somehow managed to barely (if at all) hurt the league.

The Timberwolves, though they did not begin play until the 1989-90 season, actually conceived of during the 1986-87 season. Back then, the league was in expansion mode, with 23 teams and still on its way to today's 30. That season marked the first in which league-wide attendance reached 12 million. Average attendance that year was 12,795. Total regular-season attendance stood at 12,065,685, which, if adjusted for 30 teams, would translate to 15,737,850

In 2011-12, the league posted a total regular-season attendance of 17,100,861, for an average attendance of 17,274. When adjusted over 82 games instead of 66, that would come out to a total attendance of 21,246,528, marking extreme growth in the two and a half decades since basketball was born in Minnesota. For perspective though, 2011-12's numbers were just marginally down from 2010-11; average attendance that year was 17,319, for a total of 21,302,573. So yes, the league lost the revenue from those 240 cancelled games, but it didn't continue to lose money through fan attrition like it might have.

The Timberwolves were one clear example of the fact that an improved product can negate any anger over lost games. Although the team fell off in a big way in late March and April, it showed promise, and its average attendance improved by 14.7 percent from 2010-11. It'll be interesting to see what carryover last season has to this year's sales and what numbers will look like if the team can become a contender late in the season.

Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.

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