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Published July 25 2012

Timberwolves set to play exhibition game at Fargodome in October

FARGO – Remembering how many times the Minnesota Timberwolves have come to the Fargodome was a bit too much for Rob Sobolik.

Ask the Fargodome general manager the last time the Timberwolves came to town, and he had a precise answer.

“It was not sold out,” Sobolik recalled. “It is fair to say that in 2002, it was a little light in attendance.”

He believes there could be a larger crowd come Oct. 10 when the Timberwolves will play a preseason NBA game against the Indiana Pacers. The Timberwolves announced Wednesday the team would return to Fargo after a 10-year absence.

Minnesota’s second-ever NBA franchise was set to play an exhibition game last year, but the NBA lockout crushed those plans.

“With the work stoppage last year, we were only allowed two preseason games at Target Center,” said Timberwolves president Chris Wright.

This will be the seventh time the Timberwolves will play in Fargo, compiling a 2-4 record at the Fargodome. The Oct. 10 event will be one of eight preseason games for the Timberwolves.

Announcing a game in Fargo was part of a busy day for the team.

The Wolves signed Russian shooting guard Alexey Shved and hours later traded forward Wesley Johnson to Phoenix in a three-team deal obtaining two draft picks and the contract of retiring center Brad Miller, according to The Associated Press.

Taking Miller’s contract means the Wolves will have more room under the salary cap to potentially sign free agent Andrei Kirilenko.

“We hope to be making two or three more announcements this summer with free agency,” Wright said.

Wright said if free agency continues to be kind to the Wolves, it could make for a fun season and potentially its first season over .500 since 2004-05.

The team already has star Kevin Love, arguably the best power forward in the NBA. Point guard and Spanish phenom Ricky Rubio had a strong start with the team before a knee injury forced him to miss the rest of the year.

Wright said Rubio will join the team in its pre-season camp.

“Then we’ve got our (Arizona) Wildcat Derrick Williams,” Wright said. “Then there’s Nikola Pekovic, who was voted by other players in the NBA as the league’s strongest man.”

Sobolik added he also was excited and if the masses are too, there will be room.

He said the Fargodome, which has hosted everything from high school to professional basketball, can hold 11,000 people for its basketball setup.

Sobolik said the set up for the game would be a “little bit bigger” than the set up the Fargodome used for the North Dakota State-North Dakota basketball game in December 2010.

“We have discussions with the Timberwolves on a somewhat regular basis,” he said. “With Fargo-Moorhead being so close to Minneapolis and a fair amount of season ticket holders being here, it is something we’ve always looked into.”

Over an eight-day span, the Fargodome will host two NDSU football games, the Timberwolves and a concert featuring Christian music artist TobyMac.

“I am very excited about it all because last year it didn’t work out and it was unfortunate,” Sobolik said. “It worked out to get them back this year.”

Minnesota's all-time results in exhibition games played in Fargo:


Oct. 20, 1989 Milwaukee L 98-80

Oct. 15, 1993 Boston L 106-101

Oct. 26, 1995 Washington W 119-110

Oct. 24, 1997 Charlotte L 125-100

Oct. 20, 2000 Phoenix L 86-77

Oct. 8, 2002 Milwaukee W 88-82

In all, it will be the franchise's 16th game in the state, according to a press release.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found

at slightlychilled.areavoices.com