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Eric Peterson, Published October 08 2012

Fargodome filling up for Timberwolves exhibition game

FARGO – The Minnesota Timberwolves are doing their best to bring a Target Center feel to Fargo.

The NBA club’s dance team, dunk squad and mascot “Crunch” are all set to be at the Fargodome on Wednesday night for Minnesota’s exhibition opener against the Indiana Pacers.

“We’re bringing all of our game ops (operations) up there,” said Timberwolves president Chris Wright. “We want to make this game be absolutely phenomenal.”

The Wolves haven’t played in Fargo since 2002, when they beat Milwaukee 88-82 in a preseason game at the Fargodome. That game drew 3,323 fans.

A crowd at least twice that size is expected this time. Fargodome general manager Rob Sobolik said nearly 7,000 tickets had already been sold as of Monday afternoon.

“It will be significantly higher than it was the last time they were here,” said Sobolik. “We always want more (fans), but it’s a fair number.”

The Timberwolves have played in Fargo six previous times and five of those games were played in the Fargodome. The Wolves first played in the Fargodome in 1993 against the Boston Celtics. That game drew around 14,000 fans.

Sobolik said the Fargodome is configured to hold close to 10,000 fans for Wednesday’s game. He said the court setup is similar to the one used for the NDSU-UND men’s basketball game in 2010. More than 10,000 fans attended that game.

Sobolik said he senses fans are excited about this Wolves team.

“I think there is definitely more optimism about the Timberwolves in general,” Sobolik said. “People want to see them, plus it’s been a while since they’ve been here.”

Wright said he expects all the team’s healthy players to see the court in Fargo, including All-Star forward Kevin Love who had an MVP-type year last season. Point guard Ricky Rubio is still recovering from a knee injury. Rubio isn’t expected to return to game action until at least early December.

“I don’t believe that Rubio will make the trip,” Wright said.

The Timberwolves have a number of new faces on the roster, including guards Brandon Roy and Alexey Shved and forwards Andrei Kirilenko and Chase Budinger.

Roy didn’t play in the NBA last season due to knee issues, but he’s a former All-Star player.

Budinger was acquired from the Houston Rockets via trade and is expected to add 3-point shooting. Shved is a young, flashy shooting guard from Russia, while Kirilenko is a versatile veteran defensive player.

Both Shved and Kirilenko played for the Russian national team in this past summer’s Olympics.

“I think the fans of Fargo are going to see a completely different look Timberwolves,” Wright said. “You are going to see a completely re-worked roster.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com