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March 26, 2007

Stuff I'd like to say

• Well, at least it has been proven that I can win a bet. If you'll recall, zooomx and I made a little bet on who would go further into the Frozen Four tournament: the Golden Gophers or the St. Cloud State Huskies. As you probably already know, I won this bet in convincing fashion with the Gophers cruising past Air Force while St. Cloud State got crushed.

Zooomx now must wear a piece of U of M paraphernalia and take me to a Twins game where he will treat me to a delicious root beer float! What a deal! Zooomx, do you have any words that would let us know how you feel in defeat? (Note how I have not mentioned anything about UND?)

• One of my new favorite blogs these days is The National Anthem Before a Cubs Game which is surprisingly about all things Minnesota. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago Jon, the author of the aforementioned blog, wrote about the Minnesota sports scene after the hire of Tubby Smith:

One year ago, Gopher football and Gopher basketball were probably #5 and #7 on the local popularity list. In the year since, Maturi's fired both coaches and hired inspiring candidates for both positions. Gopher football is up to #3. This move may put Gopher basketball up as far as #4 - in less than three hours after Smith's hiring was confirmed, the U of M ticket office sold 254 season tickets for next season.

There are a lot of interesting things to think about in this statement. And while it is impossible for me to separate my own likes and dislikes from a list like this, just what are the most popular teams in Minnesota right now? Here is my list:

  1. The Vikings -- We all know that fans are more angry than ever with the direction of this team. But Chilly is right, if the Vikings are winning people will forget all about the so called problems of the team right now. I'm not sure how they expect to win with Jackson or Bollinger, but we'll see. All I can say is that two more years of bad communication, bad press, and bad teams and I will be longing for the days of Red McCombs. Yikes.
  2. The Twins -- The Twins are more popular now than ever, including 1991. With a new ballpark on the way they have a shot of surpassing the Vikes and a shot at retaining some of their key players. I just love the Twins. They are a closer second to the Vikings than ever before.
  3. Golden Gopher Football -- I am more interested in Gopher football than I think I have ever been. I have honestly considered buying season tickets. Tim Brewster is the antithesis of Brad Childress, he sells the program and makes us feel a part of it. If he ever makes it to the Rose Bowl, watch out Vikes.
  4. Golden Gopher Hockey -- Minnesota can handle a mediocre basketball team. They can tolerate a football team that goes to the Music City Bowl every couple of years. What Minnesota will never stand for, though, is a mediocre Gopher hockey team. I joined this bandwagon a few years ago because quite frankly it is nice that Minnesota dominates in at least one sport. If they were the only D1 team in Minnesota they would probably rank higher on the list.
  5. Golden Gopher Basketball -- Before Tubby, the Gopher cagers would have probably been a lot lower on this list, but now they have a chance of surpassing Gopher hockey. Not for a couple of years though. Gotta give Maturi a lot of credit for this one.
  6. The Wild -- Some of you may disagree with this placement, but I personally am not a big professional hockey fan. In fact, I don't have a lot to say about the Wild at all. I think it is great that Minnesota has a professional hockey team, but I personally couldn't care less about them. But I'll put them ahead of ...
  7. The Timberwolves -- I can't believe how pathetic this team is. In fact, I can't believe how little I care about the NBA in general. Besides KG, I just don't care. Think about it, it costs about $40 to get a decent ticket at the Target Center to watch a phenomenally mediocre team play other teams with, at best, petulant prima donnas that I also don't care about. I can't believe I'm saying this, but if the Timberwolves ever left this fair state I don't think I would be that upset.

And that brings up another point: how can the Twin Cities area support all these sports teams? And when the new Twins and Gophers stadiums open, some teams will really start hurting. The teams that will hurt the most? The Vikings and the Timberwolves, no doubt about it. Of course, the Vikings make me the most nervous. I expect the "moving to LA" rumors to kick into full swing around 2009.

Too many teams and too many venues. Spycake has been harping on this for a couple of years, but in a few years it will be plainly obvious. All I can say is I wish the big state college was in Mankato or St. Cloud because quite frankly a strong athletic department at the U of M will possibly fatally hurt at least one professional sports team in the Twin Cities. I just hope it isn't the Vikings.

Posted by snackeru at March 26, 2007 8:52 PM

Comments

Here's my list.

1. Twins
2. Anything Gophers (Hockey, Football Basketball, Wrestling, Tennis, Chess, Adapted Uno)
3. Wild
4. T-Wolves
5. Vikes

Posted by: Embrace the Madness at March 26, 2007 10:50 PM

Shane - thanks for the mention - unfortunately, my name's not Tom. (Perhaps I should change it - if that's what it takes to get a mention here, then maybe that's what I should do.)

Here's the list that I was referring to (in terms of current popularity):

1. Twins
2. Wild
3. Gopher Football
4. Gopher Basketball
5. Vikings
6. Gopher Hockey
...
734. Timberwolves


--Jon
"The National Anthem Before a Cubs Game" (which, by the way, is a line from an old Bloom County cartoon... it'd take awhile to explain.)

Posted by: Jon at March 26, 2007 11:18 PM

Jon, I'm so sorry about blowing it with your name! You won't believe this, but I finished writing that post at about 10:00 last night. As I put my head on my pillow for a good nights sleep I jumped up and said, "His name is Jon!" Then I thought it would be unlikely for you to read the mistake before the morning so I went to sleep. So, now I woke up at 6:30 to correct the mistake but you've already read it! Shoot. Again, I'm sorry about that.

Your list is probably pretty accurate in terms of the current loyalties of the Minnesota sports viewing public, although I still think the Vikings are too low. Your Timberwolves assessment seems to be similar to mine. I would put the Roseau Rams ahead of the Timberwolves right now. And honestly, I'm getting a little sick of KG's whining, too. If he really wants to win he should take a pay cut.

Posted by: Shane at March 27, 2007 6:57 AM

Those seem like "personal lists" as opposed to popularity based on attendance and viewership. When those things are considered, it's not even close;

The Vikes sell more, earn more and draw more than all the other clubs combined. Heck, Vikes PRESEASON beat the Twins playoffs games last year in ratings when they were on head to head.

Posted by: Buck Faseball at March 27, 2007 7:22 AM

I meant to say "playoff run" games last year, but you get the point.

Posted by: Buck Faseball at March 27, 2007 7:24 AM

Minnesota is Couch Potato and Stadium Potato heaven.

We could solve the energy crisis if profressional sports fans got rid of the overextended waistlines they all appear to waddle around with.

Posted by: kleck at March 27, 2007 7:43 AM

I hope the Vikings move to LA and the Gophers, in their OUTDOOR stadium, become the #1 football team in town. What have the Vikings done for us other than break our hearts year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year? It will be satisfying seeing them stuck in the Metrodump while the Twins are playing under the sun in THEIR new ballpark. It was the last straw for me when the Vikings nearly killed the Twins ballpark by insisting they be included in the same bill. Good Riddance! I always thought the "Los Angeles Vikings" had a nice ring to it! This is coming from a guy who lived and breathed Vikings in the 80's and early 90's.

Posted by: John at March 27, 2007 8:31 AM

yeah, that'll happen (incredible sarcasm).

Remember; "hate isn't the opposite of love, complacency is...." and nobody cares about baseball.

Posted by: Buck Faseball at March 27, 2007 8:33 AM

Hey Shane, nothing like a hard-luck SCSU fan to break your curse. Worse thing is now I am playing third fiddle to a Gopher Hockey fan and a Cheesehead besides... Yikes!!!

My personal list:

1) Twins baby!!
2) Husky Hockey (glutton for punishment)
3) Vikings (glutton for punishment part II)
4) Wild
5) Gopher Basketball (SCSU is not D1, so I can list this in good conscience)
6) Gopher Football (ditto)
7) Alexandria Blizzard Hockey and Beetles Baseball (tie)
9) PGA Golf
763) Pro Bowlers Tour
764) Gopher Hockey
765) My fire Kevin McHale pool
766) Timberwolves basketball

Posted by: zooomx at March 27, 2007 9:17 AM

Wasn't the NFL in like week 4 or 5 during the start of the MLB playoffs? And I thought the Twins' short playoff appearance occurred on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Those wouldn't be broadcast at the same time as a Vikings game.

Posted by: AA at March 27, 2007 9:34 AM

Whoops. Nevermind. I missed the followup post.

Posted by: AA at March 27, 2007 9:36 AM

"cruised" past Air Force? Ha. That's funny.

Then again, Zoomx should know better than putting a bet on a team (SCSU) that has yet to win an NCAA tournament game.

Posted by: Alex at March 27, 2007 10:55 AM

My popularity rankings would look like this:

1. Twins
2. Timberwolves, even as much as they suck right now
3. Vikings
4. Gopher hoops
5. Gopher football
6. Gopher volleyball
7. Gopher wrestling
8. anything hockey, because hockey is still lame, even when the MN teams are good...

Posted by: Snyder at March 27, 2007 12:48 PM

Since this conversation is touching on the business side of sports, I feel the need to weigh in. I have heard the argument on the ability of our area to support four major pro sports as well as a D-1 university many times before, and while it holds merit and is a cause of concern for teams without the best possible venue, the Twin Cities is far more capable than many other cities.

Bizjournals did a study a couple years ago that talked about exactly this; measuring total personal income in a metro area compared to what it takes to support professional and college teams. I won't go into detail on how they calculated what it takes to support a team and how they arrived at their final analysis. A large number of cities were in far worse shape that we are. The Twin Cities has about $170B in total personal income (TPI). If you consider the Phoenix metro area, which is about the same size as the Twin Cities (3 million people) and has the four pro sports and Arizona State, they have just $116B in TPI. All of the following metro areas are about the same size as we are (Only Seattle and Miami have a University as close as we do, but they all have a major university very close by, and the large metro areas indeed to have to support those schools. Like Colorado, many of the fans drive in from Denver.):

Denver has $134B in TPI
Seattle has $156B in TPI
Cleveland has $140B
Tampa has $75B
Miami has $194B

So, it seems that we are not very far out of line with other metro areas our size. (Understand that Seattle, Cleveland and Tampa each have only three pro sports teams) And, in fact are in better shape than all but Miami for metro areas of relatively the same size. And, when I look at smaller metro areas like San Diego, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, St. Louis, or Cincinnati, we are in better shape as well.

So, the money is there. The Twin Cities is very affluent and the teams will be forced to do quality marketing and they will need to be sure and build their facilities to match the community's needs, and also price them accordingly.

Just some fodder for discussion. I am a sportsbusiness geek, so pardon my enthusiasm for this stuff. I could have written for hours on this, but kept it as brief as possible.

Posted by: Derek Robertson at March 27, 2007 2:01 PM

Buck--

I generally won't deny the business behemoth that is the modern-day NFL, but you're playing hard and loose with your facts in your "head-to-head" TV ratings comparison. The Vikings preseason games you reference were broadcast over-the-air (on Ch. 5, I think?), while the Twins games were on cable (FSN), so it's kinda apples and oranges. Even in this modern age, utter crap on broadcast ("Nanny 911" etc.) can still draw bigger ratings than quality programs on cable.

The Vikings dominate enough clear comparisons that you shouldn't have to trot this one out.

Posted by: spycake at March 27, 2007 2:41 PM

My List -

1. Vikes
2. Twins
3. Sioux Hockey....sorry guys....but they rock
4. Timberwolves.....I still like them
5. Gopher football
6. Wild
7. Gopher Basketball
10,789,987. Gopher Hockey

Question...

I was out of the country for a week (no internet access) and just saw on the startribune that the stadium design is being revealed on April 5th....can anyone confirm that?

Posted by: MOJO at March 27, 2007 2:49 PM

I heard Souhan on KSTP recently and he stated he would rather have a retractabe roof on the Twins ballpark instead of a new Viking stadium. I gotta say that I agree even though a roof is not going to work at the rapid park site.
-Jiminstpaul

Posted by: Jiminstpaul at March 27, 2007 4:25 PM

In terms of overall fan interest, I have to disagree with the placement of Gopher Baseketball on your list. When both teams are good, Minnesota is a basketball school, not a football school. The very fact that Brewster's press conference was at the MacNamara Center in front of hundreds while Tubby's was at Williams arena in front of thousands bears that out. TV ratings also prove this. It should be:

1. Vikings
2. Twins
3. Gopher Basketball
4. Gopher Football
5. Wild
6. Gopher Hockey
7. T-Wolves

On a personal level I might bump the T-wolves up to 5, but in reality I don't pay attention to any of 5-7 until they are in the play-offs/NCAA tournament.

On the subject of too many teams, I do think Minnesota can support them all, but maybe not all of them 'well.' However, it's difficult to see which team would leave. The Vikings are too popular for the NFL to be stupid enough to move. The Twins are getting a new stadium, and don't compete with the others for most of thier schedule. The Wild are a no-brainer. That only leaves the T-Wolves. I don't think Taylor will ever move them, but if he ever gets fed up and sells, it could happen.

Posted by: David H. at March 27, 2007 5:14 PM

Shane - no worries on the name. Although from now I plan to refer to you as "Shawn". (I'm kidding.)

How timely your post was - via RandBall (http://www.startribune.com/blogs/randball/?p=538), ESPN came out with their annual popularity rankings today, ranking the 122 major-sport teams from #1 to #Detroit Lions. The local teams:

14. Twins
29. Wild
109. Timberwolves
119(!). Vikings

I've got all three major Gopher sports fitting in the gap between Wild and Wolves... plus maybe four or five hundred other local teams.

Posted by: Jon at March 27, 2007 6:38 PM

Jiminstpaul,
Did it ever occur to you that if a new Twins ballpark had a retractable roof it would be closed all the time? Minnesota fans have become too accustomed to watching games inside, and most of us seem to have it in our heads that it's supposed to be that way.

Once the temp hit 60, fans would be clamoring and complaining that the roof was open (See Milwaukee). We need to get away from that mindset and become real fans again. The elements are part of the game. Sure, there will be a few uncomfortable games once in a while in April. There will be rainouts. Who cares? That's baseball. Thank goodness there's no roof. I would be in baseball Heaven if it snowed opening day 2010.

Posted by: John at March 27, 2007 6:42 PM

When both teams are good, Minnesota is a basketball school, not a football school.

David, when has the Gophers football team ever been good? Your sample of data meeting that condition would be at least 45 years old!

Posted by: spycake at March 27, 2007 7:44 PM

Question...

I was out of the country for a week (no internet access) and just saw on the startribune that the stadium design is being revealed on April 5th....can anyone confirm that?

This is where I saw it.....

"Jerry Bell, President of Twins Sports, Inc., said the Twins are prepared to move forward with the stadium project. They are convinced the process of acquiring the land behind Target Center will no longer foul up the process.

They will accept bids on excavation work at the site, and they will finally unveil the stadium desgin on Apr. 5."

Posted by: MOJO at March 27, 2007 8:52 PM

After the recent news an updated blog I doubt anyone will read this, but I am starting to think the whole "priority" list is quite interesting. I think there are a few things to keep in mind about the local market...

1) whether we want to admit it or not, our local economy is driven, large in part, to non-Minnesotans, non-University of Minnesota alumni, and largely, just big sports fans.

2) In that regard, anyone who lists the hockey gophers above the Wild is crazy. Sorry, I realize this blog comes from the U of M, but to say the U of M is more popular than the Wild is nothing other than ridiculous (again, keep in mind I am speaking for the general public and not someone who works for the Uiversity).

3) Lists comparing other "large metro areas" are relevant except for the fact that I beleive the U of M is in the top 2 of student populations (at least in the top three with Texas and Ohio State), so comparing them to Denver (which has DU for Hockey, CU for all major sports, and CSU for all major sports is a stretch). Saying CSU and CU sports are part of Denver's culture is the same as saying that Mankato, St. Cloud, all those Dakota schools, and even Winona are part of the local sports scene... which is simply not true. And what school in Seattle rivals the size of the U of M (I might be very, very wrong because I simply just don't know)?

4) I dislike the U of M because I am a graduate from a rival big ten school, but how can someone possibly compare the size of the school to anything in Denver, Seattle, or Cleveland? That just doesn't make sense to me because Minneapolis just seems bigger and the school seems to be a MUCH bigger part of the community than any of those cities/schools. It is a huge school with a giant (relatively) school body compared to schools in cities similar to Minneapolis. Just my thoughts on the issue...

Also, let's not be biased and objectively think that that college hockey even matters, at least revenue wise, in the grand scheme... they will sell out games, but they do not generate revenue, outside of ticket sales that basketball and football programs bring in... we generate the best hockey players out of any state in the US, but that is miniscule to the money that can be made compared to a legitmate football or basketball program...

By the way, I think Tubby Smith is going to do more for this sports community than anyone can realize. Granted, he had the luxury of being the coach of Kentucky, and couldn't recruit any level of players higher than making a nine seed, but Minnesota will take that, so we can all look forward to ten years of 9 seeds and losing to #1 seeds. Like I said, U of M fans will take what they can get, and that is the only reason he is the new coach.

Posted by: chi-town2 at March 28, 2007 12:37 AM

After re-reading my comments, I basically argued myself into a cirlce. My main points are that having a huge student body on campus, near to downtown only provides more potential ateendees to professional sporting events, and clearly, there is a fan base for the university athletics. Having all these "kids" in the city only makes it more viable for professional teams to succeed. I think having students/sports fans helps professional teams, more so than, hurting them.

Personally, I don't think there are "families", who are entertaining clients with corporate seats at T-Wolves games, that would drop season tickets for Gopher tickets. Most lower level tickets at professional games are owned by corporations and/or other sucessful companies. Good seats will always be corporate owned, so the sooner, we can accept that, the sooner we'll all get along. That is why most of the supporters of the stadium have links to said corporation or are willing to sit in the cheap seats that we can actually afford.

Posted by: chi-town2 at March 28, 2007 12:59 AM

Agree with many of your points. Incidentally, Seattle has the University of Washington, which has a smaller student body, but is still a major D-1 university. In comparing to Denver, there is no major school in Denver, but Denver is where most alumni of Colorado settle. So, much of the ticket sales for Colorado and Colorado State, come from Denver. Also, the hockey program at the U generates tremendous bottom-line profit. Second only to basketball at the U. It is far cheaper to operate than football, so the profit generated is vital to the athletic program.

Posted by: Derek Robertson at March 28, 2007 8:24 AM

I think some of the lists were the poster's personal favorites not regional favorites.

Also CU is only 30 miles from downtown Denver, closer if you live in the northern suburbs. Not a perfect oranges to oranges comparison with UMN-Mpls or UWA-Seattle, but at least Oranges to Tangerines comparison

Posted by: Freealonzo at March 28, 2007 4:22 PM

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