“Go Wolves!” mural pops up overnight on downtown Minneapolis’ First Avenue

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Fresh paint appeared on a downtown Minneapolis street on Thursday to cheer for the Timberwolves in their first NBA Western Conference finals appearance in decades.

City workers began painting at around midnight, writing “Go Wolves!” in bold letters on 1st Avenue N. between 5th and 6th streets. The 19-foot letters shine blue and green — the Timberwolves’ team colors. Nearby streets were also temporarily renamed in support of the team’s historic run.

Behind that is a mural featuring players Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Naz Reid, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert, Anthony Edwards, Karl Anthony-Towns, Jaden McDaniels and Kyle Anderson.

Officials say the altered street signs and “Go Wolves” painting will remain throughout the team’s playoff run. The street art idea was dreamed up by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber and the Minneapolis Downtown Council, which funded the pop-up display.

“Team Public Works is always at the ready, and this time they answered the call to support our T-Wolves,” Minneapolis Public Works Director Tim Sexton said in a statement. “Thanks to our crews who worked overnight to paint the encouraging words — and touched up crosswalks in the area while they were at it. This is Minneapolis at its finest.”

“Downtown is howling with excitement and painting the town Timberwolves,” Mayor Jacob Frey said in the statement. “Thank you to our Public Works crews who have been out the past two days putting up temporary street signs and painting streets to celebrate the Wolves.”

Support for the Timberwolves swelled after the team swept the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs. That support reached a fever pitch when the Wolves beat the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, eliminating last year’s champions and punching a ticket for Minnesota’s first appearance in the NBA’s Western Conference finals in 20 years.

Gov. Tim Walz declared Wednesday Wolves Back Day; dozens of supporters inked tattoos to support the team. Thousands more packed downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday as the Wolves faced the Dallas Mavericks for the conference final’s first round. The Mavericks won by three points.

“Bringing out the blue and green on our city streets is just one way to show our support,” City Operations Officer Margaret Anderson Kelliher said. “Sports fans from across the country are looking to Minneapolis for the first two games of the series and we want to showcase our best.”

The Wolves and Mavericks play at Target Center again on Friday. That game will start at 7:30 p.m. Many downtown bars will host watch parties for the game, and team officials planned a free block party for fans hoping to watch the game. The block party will be held across from Target Center on the corner of 1st Avenue and 6th Street. Tickets are required, but free online. The event will feature a food truck, mobile bar and live broadcast of the game.

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