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October 29, 2004

The Apathy of Twins Fans

Ryan of TwinsChatter wrote a great article today about the Twins need for a new stadium. For one thing, he links to the Greet Machine Voter's Guide so I thank him for that, but what I appreciate even more is that he wrote about the Twins stadium issue. In my 10 years of following stadium politics in Minnesota I have always been perplexed by the general apathy of Twins fans when it comes to building a new stadium. Of course, there are some fans, like me, that are rabidly pro-stadium. Some would even call it pure desperation. I would probably agree with them. But I would say the bulk of Twins fans generally don't care about this issue, or they do care but they choose not to do anything about it. I would say the majority of Twins fans all have their heads in the sand thinking, "It will all work out in the end. There is nothing I can do anyway. I'll just sit back and wait." Bah! If even half of the millions of Twins fans just wrote their legislators one letter (or a few, like me) we could make some serious noise. And it is definitely time to start making some noise. It is well past time in fact. This issue needs to be solved!

I hate to say it, but I am beginning to question the quality of fan in Minnesota, or at least the number of quality fans in Minnesota. When you look at Denver, Philadelphia, Detroit, or Seattle you see cities that have built two and sometimes three different stadium venues. And really think about Denver ... when the Broncos said they need a new stadium, there was no question it would be built. The people of Denver and Colorado flipped out and got something done. The biggest controversy wasn't whether or not to build it, but what to call it! Everyone, the team, the people, the legislature, the city, they all got together and solved the problem! I've talked to my aunt and uncle in Denver and they've told me they are stunned by what is happening in Minnesota. They can't believe we would risk losing our teams because we can't figure something out. When I think about Denver, I can't imagine them not figuring something out. Their fans are too rabid and too strong not to figure something out. When I think about the fans of Minnesota ... well, I hate to say it but it looks like we are apathetic at best, and quite possibly "fair weather" at worst.

And concerning Twins fans, Ryan of TwinsChatter even writes:

"We usually stay away from the controversial world of politics here at Twins Chatter, and for good reason. For some reason, while people will tolerate my thoughts and musings on baseball, they are always perturbed when I (or my fellow baseball bloggers) delve into the realm of politics. I canít really explain exactly why this is, but Iím willing to accept it."

Stop getting perturbed, Twins fans, and start making some noise! I am not willing to accept this situation at all. Are you afraid that by supporting state financing of a Twins stadium you will lose some friends? Or perhaps your standing in the community? Maybe your wife or husband will get angry with you? I can promise you that none of this will happen. Please, for the love of all that is holy, show your support for a new Twins stadium! It is actually very liberating.

And don't get me wrong, as Twins fans we should not at all support the state picking up the tab in its entirety, or even the majority of the stadium costs. As I've written before Pohlad definitely needs to do more. But in 99% of these situations the state, team, and city get together and hammer out a deal. As Twins fans we can put pressure on all three of these entities and make something happen.

In closing, I'd like to reprint a letter Ryan of TwinsChatter received from his representative, Ray Cox:

Thanks for your message. I suspect the reason you may hear conflicting things on a Twins stadium is because there are several different plans out....some people support one plan, others all plans.

I can support a Twins stadium as long as it does not use any general tax dollars. I don't want to have people in Winona, Warroad, or Mankato pay tax dollars for a Twins stadium if they never go to the stadium. I have no problem with a variety of funding plans such as ticket taxes, tax on sports items, rental cars, etc. to pay for a stadium. I also don't have problems with using some type of tax increment financing to assist a stadium.

Bottom line, as long as the Twins bring in a plan that doesn't consume general tax dollars I will be happy to support it."

This is the type of legislator we should be supporting. Cox seems to be thoughtful, intelligent, and willing to consider numerous avenues to solve a problem. Please vote on November 2. And if possible, please vote for a legislator that has an open mind like Ray Cox. And then start making some noise.

Posted by snackeru at October 29, 2004 9:38 AM | Stadiums


I agree somewhat, but I think this legislator should go further. Just because someone from Winona doesn't go to any Twins game does not mean he won't benefit from a stadium. Not every cent of my taxes pays for something that benefits me directly. People who send children to private school still pay for public schools, and I pay for roads that I will never drive on. I think the potential for a Twins stadium is amazing; Minnesota has twice the baseball team as Milwaukee, and I think better overall fan support, yet has a lower average attendance. Given a stadium that properly serves baseball, it is undeniable that they will fill it up year in and year out. There are so many considerations besides whether this hypothetical guy in Winona is going to personally enjoy going to the games or not.

Posted by: Tim at October 29, 2004 11:07 AM

Don't dismiss Brewer fans so easily. What is your basis for your claim? Milwaukee is a big baseball town. Yes, all of WI are insane Packer fans, but being from that area, I can assure you that baseball is king there. I would argue that because the city built a stadium for their baseball team and still show up for a sub-par team prove they are better fans than the Twins fans, that won't come out unless the team is in the playoffs. Shane and I have had this discussion before, so I'll just leave it at this.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at October 29, 2004 12:32 PM

Craig: Be careful not to break your arm while giving yourself a pat on the back! I would assert that it is impossible to say that fans of the Brewers are better fans than those of the Twins. How do you really measure something like that? The Twins are playing in a horrible ballpark that is over twenty years old. Their owner is a crochety old snake who has kept the same low payroll for the last three years. He has lied to and mislead the entire state of Minnesota for years regarding his intentions with the Twins. From contraction to the "pretend" move to North Carolina to the stadium contribution that was actually a loan, Pohlad has done nothing to endear himself to the state of Minnesota or to Twins fans. I think this is the main reason why people have stayed away. I would also argue that we need to remember those years before Pohlad went in to cost saving mode in the early 1990s. The Twins were the first AL team to draw 3 million fans! Kirby and Hrbek and Frankie V were icons all across the Upper Midwest. While it is disconcerting that Twins seem to be apathetic, lets put the blame were it solely lies: at the feet of Carl Pohlad, a greedy miser who began his fortune by cashing out on people's hopes and dreams in the Great Depression.

I would further assert that after the glow of Miller Park fades, and if the Brewers continue their dance with mediocrity, Milwaukee will have the same situtation that the Twins faced the entire decade of the 1990s. For your sake, I hope the new Brewers owner is completely unlike the snake we have had. (Gee, can you tell that I hate Carl Pohlad)

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at October 30, 2004 8:57 PM

Well, Craig, I too am from Wisconsin (born and raised, 22 years total) and I lived in Milwaukee for 4 years as an undergraduate. I've been to many Brewers games, and a few Twins games, and I formed my opinion from the experiences I've had at the different games. Brewer's fans go to the game to relax and drink beer, or to sit quietly with their families. Twins fans go to the games because they are rabid about the Twins. Maybe Brewers fans would be more rabid if the Brewers were as consistently good as the Twins... but it seems the Twins have fans even in the down years. There are plenty of other places in Wisconsin for people to drink, so unless the Brewers turn it around soon, their attendance will drop (closer) to the bottom of the league again. I realize these are broad strokes, and I don't know every person in every section of the games, so I don't claim I can prove my point objectively - it's only based on what I have seen.

Posted by: Tim at October 31, 2004 2:04 PM

>> I don't want to have people in Winona, Warroad, or Mankato pay tax dollars for a Twins stadium if they never go to the stadium.

Walk through a parking lot near the dome on gameday, and you'll see many license plates from Wisconsin and even some from South Dakota and beyond. I also have friends in Mankato who attend at least a couple games each year. (And maybe they would come more often to see an outdoor game on a summer evening). Clearly fans outside the metro area enjoy the Twins.

Posted by: Carl/Qwerty at October 31, 2004 4:53 PM

I certainly did not want to start a "who's fans are better" discussion. There is no way, as Curt said, that this could ever be judged. I just overracted to Tim's comment. I actually thought he was Shane's brother-in-law, Tim. So I jumped a bit too far in my comments. I apologize to all the Twins fans out there. I just like bringing up the stadium argument to get Shane's goat. It's fun, he he he.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at October 31, 2004 10:44 PM

"I certainly did not want to start a 'who's fans are better' discussion."

You didn't, Craig - the big guy did when he wrote this:

"I hate to say it, but I am beginning to question the quality of fan in Minnesota, or at least the number of quality fans in Minnesota."

Sorry, but I have to call BS on this one.

Go ahead and put together a voter's guide for those candidates who are pro-stadium. Go ahead and cite studies chapter and verse. Take your position and defend it as best you can, because that's how the better position wins.

But please, please, *please* don't descend to saying or even suggesting that you can't be a "quality" fan if your not pro-stadium. Saying that non-stadium-boosting fans are "apathetic". If you want a reason why anti-stadium folks tend to be so upset when they argue with you, it's because of name-calling like this.

Frankly, I don't see any necessary connection between being a fan and supporting stadium construction - after all, I was a fan long before I knew anything about how stadiums were built, and I suspect you all were, too. And I don't see how questioning the "quality" of another fan's interest gets you any closer to getting that stadium built.

David Wintheiser

Posted by: David Wintheiser at November 1, 2004 10:03 PM

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