Monday, May. 25, 2020



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Downtown Safety Concerns Wolves Owner


A week from Sunday night the NBA Timberwolves open their home regular season schedule at Target Center against the Miami Heat. Many of the Wolves’ customers will be concerned about safety in downtown Minneapolis for that game and the 40 other home dates to follow.

Patrons of city-owned Target Center and many other places downtown are alarmed by the shootings, beatings, harassment and other abhorrent behavior by thugs who roam downtown streets, say and do what they want, and threaten the well-being of defenseless men, women and children.

The environment in a once great downtown and admired city has changed with a population of troublemakers who brazenly do everything from panhandling to stealing to inflicting physical harm and property damage. A downtown proprietor told Sports Headliners about his building being spray painted with graffiti and his entrance doors frequently being urinated upon. Another person confirmed she and her workers are funneled off the street into a protected place to ensure their safe arrival.

Downtown business leaders, and the police, want more cops hired in the city, maybe even 400 additional law enforcement officers. The City Council, though, hasn’t approved additional hires and many skeptics don’t think it will. Critics say the Council just thinks differently. “They’re on another plane,” a former city official said.

Downtown businesses provide huge revenues to the city via commercial property taxes, and contributing significantly too are the customers who generate sales tax revenues. Without those monies the City Council would have a much different Minneapolis budget to work with. “They (the Council) are killing the Golden Goose,” the source quoted above said.

Glen Taylor

Glen Taylor has owned the Timberwolves for about 25 years and he has seen the deterioration of downtown. “The safety of our fans downtown at night is of the utmost importance for us,” he told Sports Headliners. “Not to have the proper law enforcement people out there to at least discourage any bad things to happen is just the wrong way to go. I hope the City Council will get in line and help support this idea (of) getting more law enforcement downtown for not only us but for all the events down there.”

Taylor is knowledgeable about his customer base, including families with young children. They may think twice about attending a Wolves game. Perception is enough to frighten fans, even if they haven’t been traumatized by past experiences. Taylor said, “…It just keeps them from coming downtown because they’re frightened that it (an incident) might happen to them.”

Worth Noting

Taylor’s other team, the WNBA Lynx, is done with its season and made the playoffs for a ninth consecutive year. He said the club again was financially profitable, although not as much as in the past when the Lynx had deep playoff runs.

All-Pro forward Maya Moore took a sabbatical and didn’t play last season. What about next year? “I don’t have any knowledge of what her decision is going to be,” Taylor said.

Golden Gophers redshirt junior forward Eric Curry, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, will have surgery next week, per an announcement this morning from basketball coach Richard Pitino.

In a couple of “mop-up” situations, including in the fourth quarter last Saturday night when the Golden Gophers had a 34-7 lead over Nebraska, coach P.J. Fleck has not used freshmen backup quarterbacks Jacob Clark and Cole Kramer. By doing so Fleck preserves the option of being able to use either, or both, for up to four games and still preserve their redshirt status if they have to replace starter Tanner Morgan because of injury or illness.

Morgan ranks No. 4 nationally in passing efficiency, while running back Rodney Smith is ninth in rushing yards per game (112.5) and 14th in all-purpose yards (134.33). Minnesota ranks 10th in the country in fewest penalties at 4.50 per game, and No. 12 in time of possession, 33:33.

Fleck said on his KFAN Radio show Tuesday that Gophers offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, who missed last Saturday’s game against Nebraska, was back at practice. He also said quarterback Zack Annexstad, last year’s early season starter, was not wearing a protective boot at practice, and possibly could play before year’s end. He had foot surgery in August.

Twin Cities native Amanda DeKanick, a graduate of Irondale High School, is the first female full-time athletic trainer in Vikings history.

If coach Mike Mahlen’s Verndale team defeats Rothsay Wednesday night, he becomes the first Minnesota prep football coach to achieve 400 career wins. Mahlen, 399-123-3, is in his 51st season at Verndale (about 150 miles northwest of Minneapolis) where he has spent his entire head coaching career. He can become the 18th active high school football coach in the country with 400 or more career wins. The national all-time high school career wins leader is John McKissick from Summerville High School (South Carolina), with a career record of 621-156-13.

Yom Kippur was last week and Minneapolis attorney Marshall Tanick authored an article for the October 4 American Jewish World regarding Jewish athletes who chose not to play on the sacred holiday. Tanick recalled that Dodgers’ superstar pitcher Sandy Koufax sat out the October 6 opening World Series game in 1965 against the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium. In 1967 Gophers All-American defensive end Bob Stein chose not to play when his team’s game against Illinois came on a Yom Kippur Saturday.

Quoting Wild owner Craig Leipold via email: “The NHL scheduler in NY was hard on the Wild this year by starting the season with 4 of 5 games on the road. Tough way to start the year.”

Birthday wishes to classy Fred Hoiberg, the former Timberwolves player and executive, who turned 47 on Tuesday. Hoiberg, now head men’s basketball coach at Nebraska, has twice had open-heart surgery and worn a pacemaker for years.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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