This day in history: Minnesota Timberwolves almost relocate to New Orleans

(Source: MGN)
(Source: MGN)(MGN)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 10:56 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - When the Jazz left New Orleans for Utah there was a massive hole left in the city’s pro sports scene.

But many in the Bayou State kept fighting to keep Big Easy Basketball alive.

Today, there is plenty of passion for Crescent City hoop dreams again as the Brandon Ingram led Pelicans were the surprise story of the NBA postseason and the foundation of the team, with Zion Williamson returning next season, showing promise of being a strong up-and-comer in the Western Conference.

The effort to return the NBA to New Orleans is something that goes as far back as the Michael Jordan-era when the nation was full of passion for the sport. On May 23, 1994, it was reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves had been sold to a new ownership group that would relocate to New Orleans and play its games in the Superdome the following season.

Check out the retro news report below.

Obviously, the move never happened and Minneota got to enjoy some years of Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury in their prime shortly after they were drafted in the following seasons.

So what happened?

A company called Top Rank purchased the team while working with investors and minority owners from Louisiana. Two local figures involved with Top Rank were then New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial and Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. However, the sale had to be approved by the league the following month and it was rejected partly due to the league’s opinion that the Superdome was not a good venue for a full NBA season, considering it would have conflicts with Saints games and other frequent events. The problem of the city not having a venue fit for the NBA was the same issue that caused the league to eventually approve the Jazz’s departure out of New Orleans.

Without a consistently available arena, Top Rank had some unusual ideas for hosting home games when the Superdome wasn’t available. They sort of pitched the team being a total Gulf Coast team and listed UNO’s Lakefront Arena, the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, and the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi as “home” venues outside of New Orleans.

With wolves not being native to Louisiana, it was reported that “Rhythm” and “Angels” were proposed name changes.

While it could have been fun watching a prime Jordan in New Orleans or having a chance to draft Garnett, we can probably be thankful now we can follow our Saints seasons with Ingram and Zion representing the Pelicans on a nightly basis.

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