MINNEAPOLIS -- As the economy spirals downward and job security gets shakier by the day, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a risk-free offer on the table for season tickets next season: Lose your job and you're off the hook.
Team owner Glen Taylor called it "an insurance program" for those concerned about committing a large sum of money for tickets next season when some are not sure they will have a job next month.
The Timberwolves kicked off their "Early Bird" season-ticket marketing campaign this week with a new three-part plan that indicates they're keenly aware of the struggling economy and their own dwindling fan base.
"We think we're taking kind of a leadership role, especially in the sports area," Taylor said.
The plan calls for lowering prices on 95 percent of season tickets in Target Center and gives fans who buy season tickets between March 2 and July 1 even deeper discounts. It also gives buyers the option of paying over nine months with 0 percent financing.
The overall price of the upper deck tickets will drop 44 percent and seats in the lower bowl of the arena will be cut more than 11 percent under the new plan.
Under the new pricing structure, 4,700 season tickets in the upper bowl can be purchased for $5 apiece, while 2,500 in the lower bowl are priced at $20 or less per game.
But the centerpiece of the package is the Timberwolves' "No-Risk Pledge."
Any season-ticket holder who loses their job in 2009 will be refunded the money for unused tickets.
"Our research tells us everybody is nervous about making long-term financial purchases," team president Chris Wright said. "We're trying to take away the risk."
In addition to owning the Timberwolves since 1995, a purchase that kept the team in the Twin Cities, Taylor owns myriad companies in Minnesota, including in the printing, retail, marketing and medical industries.
"This is the first time in my lifetime that I've had to lay off people," Taylor said. "And I can tell you that's way down in the chain of thoughts for me, to lay off people. We've had to do it because we've lost a lot of customers and chances to serve those customers.
"So after talking to the staff, they came up with some suggestions they heard our fans ask us to implement this next year."