MINNEAPOLIS – Score one for the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves over the playoff-bound Twins.
The Timberwolves have already admitted they probably won't do much winning this season, but they're not short on business acumen: The NBA team has installed a giant billboard on their arena that will be hard to miss for anyone watching the Twins' home playoff games next week.
Renderings provided by the Wolves show the ad space on the outside of Target Center will dominate the view from the third-baseline seats at the Twins' Target Field, as well as from Target Plaza outside the ballpark. It's the same vantage point of downtown Minneapolis that Sports Illustrated recently chose for a cover story on the Twins.
The first advertiser in the spot is Sanford Health, a health care system with operations in six Midwest states. The Twins say the Sanford ad will debut in time for Wednesday's opening game of the divisional series hosted by the AL Central-champion Twins.
The Wolves, who were one of the worst teams in the NBA last season with just 15 wins, wouldn't say how much Sanford Health paid for the ad.
The Twins are fuming, but powerless to stop it.
Team president Dave St. Peter didn't return calls from The Associated Press. But in an interview with MinnPost, an online news site that first reported on the billboard, St. Peter called it "an ambush" and said the size of the billboard was "shocking."
Timberwolves president Chris Wright said he was surprised the Twins are so upset. The Wolves fought and won a court battle with the operator of their arena earlier this year over the right to sell the exterior ad space.
"It was more a question of when we would do it rather than if we would do it," he said by phone from London, where the Wolves were preparing for a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
He said the Wolves have been happy to see their baseball counterparts so successful in their new stadium, and called it "a shame they would begrudge us" making use of the ad space.