June 14, 2004
Why the lack of fans?
In recent years, Twins officials (Dave St. Peter especially) have been wondering why fans are not coming out to the "ballpark" (I use that term loosely) to support the team. Every year around this time we have an article in one of the TC dailies which quotes Twins officials lamenting the fact that the Twins aren't drawing like they thought they would. This year is no exception. Of course, I have the definitive list of reasons why the Twins are not drawing fans to the Metrodome. Starting with the least important reason:
- The unbalanced schedule -- Thanks to the unbalanced schedule, the Twins play the lowly KC Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Cleveland Indians about 19 games a piece. Besides Sweeney and Pudge, these teams have no big names to bring the crowds out (and Sweeney is even a stretch). If the Twins played at least two home series against the AL East teams like the Yankees and Red Sox you would see attendance go up. That is a fact. Besides, even Sid agrees with me. And look at the attendance figures for the other AL Central teams. They aren't much different than the Twins.
- Carl Pohlad -- Pohlad has brought Minnesota two World Series championships, but Minnesotans will never forgive him for his stadium shenanigans. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is a fair number of Twins fans that boycott the games just because he owns the team. Not me, of course, but enough to make an impact.
- The Metrodome is a football stadium -- Seriously, there are only about 20,000 good seats for baseball in the Dome, and they are all encompassed between first and third base and behind home plate. There are some more decent seats in left field, but that is even stretching it. The rest of the seats, especially the seats beyond third base, are absolutely wretched for watching baseball. When I call for tickets and find out the only seats left in the lower deck are along the third base line in left field I decide to just stay home. I'm sure I'm not alone. Yesterday's Twins game drew 23,479 fans. That is really good considering how bad the seating is for baseball at the Dome.
But the number one reason is:
- Minnesotans do not like to watch baseball indoors -- Consider this: today is June 14. In exactly three months the temperature will probably be dipping into the 50s. Really, Minnesota only has about 3 months of good "summery" weather. It just isn't right that we have to watch baseball indoors under the Teflon sky when we've already spent nine months indoors waiting for summer to arrive. Given a choice of spending a beautiful summer day out on a lake, swimming at a beach, or watching the Twins play in the Metrodome, most Minnesotans will opt for staying outside. They may listen to the Twins game on the radio, but they will choose to be outside. The Twins know it, the legislature knows it, everyone knows it.
So, there you have it. My reasons for the lack of fans at Twins games. The big question now is, if we built a new stadium would fans come to the games? Or would we still see a lack of fans? Given that the two biggest reasons for poor attendance is the Metrodome seating and indoor baseball, I think we would see a huge spike in attendance if we built an outdoor stadium. In other words, if you build it we will come.
If you've got any other reasons for the poor attendance, let me hear 'em!
I belive that the fans will definitely come to a new stadium. After all, the Twins were the first American League team in history to draw 3 million fans, so a history of support is definitely there.
I think that the Twins' PR machine has been too good at convincing fans that the Metrodome is a horrible stadium. The presence of Carl Pohlad is a major factor as well, as he drove the team to the division cellar in the 1990s, and has done nothing but whine about the stadium since then. I would also argue that the current Twins lack a person like Kirby Puckett, who brought even non-baseball fans to the stadium.
Posted by: Curt Hanson at June 14, 2004 9:54 AM
You are absolutely correct, baseball is an outdoor sport. Just to hype it some more, you are going to love Miller Park. Local TV has the weather in the 70's on Saturday and clear that night and Sunday high in the upper 70's and clear for the noon game. It will be real wind blowing through your hair and not fans from the roof of the dome.
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at June 14, 2004 9:55 AM
Here is myt criteria for going to a Twins game: the home opener, haven't missed one in 6 or 7 years (used to go to the Met in my highschool years and skipped school to make the opener). Buy the $6 upper GA tickets, I take the kids, we get there before the gates open, wait an hour or so, and then when the gates open sprint up to the front row on top of the baggy. Plenty of leg room and a decent view. Heck, in Boston they are paying $100 to sit on top of the green monster (double what it was last year) and the vantage point is just as good. Then I pick out 1 or 2 good games (this year one against the hated Brewers and one against the Yankees. I go to the Twins Pro Shop and ask for tickets along the 3rd base line down by the Twins bullpen. I will only settle for front row, even if it means moving down a section or two. This gets tricky because the Twins will hold these seats for partial season ticket packages, so if you try to buy these at Twinsfest for instance they will tell you they are not available even though they are not sold. So you kind of have to time your purchace to when the Twins are done with the partial packages. Again the front row has way more leg room and a convenient ledge for your beer. Plus over the last few years my kids (they are really cute and that helps) have been 100% getting a ball from the ball boy positioned down the 3rd base line or from one of the Twins relievers (I hope JC is back soon because he has given my daughter 3 balls over the last two seasons).
Otherwise it is a rare instance when I don't hear or watch at least 5 or 6 innings of every Twins game. I think this is pretty much what St. Peter stated when he said there is a good core group of fans that don't attend alot of games. Plus I hate to say it but I will be in Milwaukee this August to see a Brewers game. I had vowed a boycot since Bud's contraction ploy, but the lure of outdoor baseball is too great.
Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at June 15, 2004 12:32 PM
Excellent point Curt. The Twins have been telling us for years that the Metrodome is a horrible place to watch baseball. And now they are shocked that the public believes them? And yes, Craig is referring to a trip I'll be taking this weekend to watch the Twins play the Brewers at Miller Park. That will be a blast. I'll write more about that later. And Jim, I can understand the $6 upper deck GA tickets. I've sat in those seats myself and I must say I like the view. But the 3rd baseline seats behind the bullpen? That I can't understand. I mean, sure you get some baseballs from the pitchers, but you need a chiropractor after the game! I will never sit down there again.
Posted by: Shane at June 15, 2004 9:23 PM