Earlier this week, the Indiana Pacers filled out the paperwork to become the sole owner of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, a team that was the previous affiliate of the 13 NBA teams still without a sole NBA Development league affiliate. The Minnesota Timberwolves were one of those teams.
With Indiana’s purchase of the Mad Ants, that leaves 12 teams without a D League team. Common thought is that, eventually, every team will have their own minor league squad, and it’s just a matter of when. With that, I decided to look at some options that may or may not be realistic.
I’m not an insider, nor a businessman, so these may not work. But this is what I came up with. Feel free to post your suggestions below.
1. Rochester, MN – Mayo Civic Center
This is one of my favorite options that may or may not end up available. Mostly just used for big-time high school and some college athletics, the Civic Center Arena has some serious untapped potential. Plus, it’s south enough that it wouldn’t be much of a hike to travel to play teams in Iowa, Sioux Falls and even Fort Wayne.
It only houses 7,200, but it looks like there’s room for extra seating (see: left side of photo) if needed. The potential of this facility, housed in an underrated Minnesota city, could make for a decent pairing.
2. Mankato, MN – Verizon Wireless Center
This is probably the most realistic option, and honestly, may be the best one. The Verizon Center is only used for Minnesota State University hockey, high school basketball, and various concerts and other events. But Maverick hockey is the only athletic program consistently in there.
In addition, Glen Taylor attended college in Mankato. Wolves training camp is in Mankato. Heck, myself and Timberwolves.com writer Kyle Ratke went to school there. It’s a cool place in my book.
3. Fargo, ND – Scheels Arena
This site is a bit further away from other D League locations, but it may be the best arena, despite a small number of fixtures there. Scheels Arena is the home of the Fargo Force, a junior hockey team that garners a decent amount of attention in ND. So, they’re well-versed in minor league athletics – why not some hoops?
North Dakota is and always will be a hockey state, but their lack of non-hockey minor league athletics could lead them to making the Wolves’ D League affiliate a fan favorite.
4. Sioux City, IA – Tyson Events Center
Sioux City is known for sitting on the Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota border and having towns technically sit within all of them. Also, they have a pretty cool music festival. Past that, they have a 10,000 seat arena that hosts minor league hockey and minor league football. They also have a minor league baseball team in their town.
But no basketball. Sioux City, obviously, will never be a town big enough to host anything substantial, but having a minor league team featuring all 4 major sports….how many towns can claim that?
5. Omaha, NE -CenturyLink Center
Omaha is a popular site for college athletics, and their main arena in downtown Omaha could give the players a chance to play in a nice arena in a city with a surprisingly nice skyline.
The big problem with this site is its popularity. In addition to a slew of athletic events and concerts, it’s also the site for Creighton basketball, which has finished in the top 10 in attendence. So, it doesn’t technically need another basketball team to add to its arsenal. Still, adding NBA D League hoops could be a good addition to the city, and to the arena.