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Timberwolves Play Is Winning Back Fans

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In a state where sports fans are hungry for something to cheer about, the new look Minnesota Timberwolves have heard the cries, and are answering the call.

“There really is no comparison,” said TicketKing co-owner, Brian Obert.

Suddenly, a ticket that was tough to sell in recent seasons is now tough to get. Obert said secondary ticket brokers like TicketKing had been getting stuck with unsold tickets in past years when the team was both uninspiring and unsuccessful.

Now the phone lines are lighting up.

“We haven’t been getting stuck at all,” he said. “It’s actually turned into a situation where we’re out there looking for extra Timberwolves tickets to sell.”

In just the first three games of the 2011-12 shortened NBA season, the team is averaging 17,966 fans a game. That’s well above last year’s season average of 15,243. In addition, single game ticket sales are up by 20 percent.

To the Timberwolves Chief Marketing Officer Ted Johnson, excitement sells.

“For the first time in a long time there’s a glimmer of hope and people are starting to see where this team is going to go and they’re excited by it,” Johnson said.

Fans are not just showing up to see the play of players like Kevin Love — they are especially interested in seeing the NBA rookie from Spain, Ricky Rubio.

And so far in the early season, he hasn’t disappointed.

“It’s definitely paying off for business, that’s for sure,” says David Klarich, manager of Hubert’s Bar and Restaurant, inside Target Center.

Rubio’s merchandise is already the leading seller at Target Center kiosks. But it’s his on court appeal that is packing downtown bars and restaurants.

“Then to go out and beat the defending champs, I mean you can’t ask for much better than that. One of the biggest wins we’ve seen around here since the Garnett era, so it’s really exciting,” Klarich said.

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