Marv Wolfenson, an original co-owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and health club entrepreneur, died Saturday, according to several news outlets. He was 87.
Wolfenson died in La Jolla, California, Timberwolves spokesman Brad Ruiter told The Associated Press on Saturday. He did not know any other details.
"The Minnesota Timberwolves organization is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Marv Wolfenson. Marv, along with his business partner Harvey Ratner, realized his dream and vision to bring professional basketball back to Minnesota," the team said in a statement, according to KARE 11.
Wolfenson and Ratner owned a series of Twin Cities health clubs and were the Timberwolves original owners when the NBA granted them and Minnesota an expansion franchise that began play in 1989, reports the Star Tribune, adding that Wolfenson died Saturday morning.
Wolfenson and Ratner were friends since childhood, and worked together for nearly five decades. The duo managed real estate and launched Northwest Racquet Swim & Health Clubs. Ratner died in 2006.
When the NBA chose to expand in the late 1980s, it voted in three other teams with the Wolves. Charlotte and Miami were added for the 1988-89 season, and Orlando and Minnesota were added for 1989-90. The Wolves were bought for $32.5 million and first played in the Metrodome, reports the Pioneer Press.
The duo known as "Harv and Marv" brought professional basketball back to Minneapolis for the first time since the Lakers left in 1960.
The following season, reports the Washington Post, they went to the other end of downtown into a new arena, Target Center, which was funded by Ratner and Wolfenson.
Their ownership was ultimately unsuccessful, ending in debt after five mostly miserable seasons on the court. Minnesota went 105-305 during that time and the franchise was sold to a group of investors in New Orleans in May 1994. The league blocked the sale a month later.
Glen Taylor, a printing magnate and former state senator from Mankato, wound up finalizing his purchase of the team in March 1995 with his limited partners for $88.5 million after a transition that included a widely criticized, publicly funded takeover of Target Center, says the Pioneer Press.
The City of Minneapolis now owns the facility, which will undergo a $97 million renovation slated to begin in the summer of 2014.