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January 23, 2008

Details emerging

Good article from Jim Souhan today regarding the new Twins ballpark. Lots of details that haven't really been hammered out. A couple catch my eye.

The best thing about the park? It's small. That might sound strange, but there is nothing worse than an oversized stadium holding a small crowd. St. Peter guessed that the final capacity might be a little less than 40,000, meaning the place will feel intimate when holding small crowds and raucous when full.

Hmmm ... I was hoping for at least 42,000 with more upper deck cheap seats. Along those lines:

St. Peter said ticket prices will start at $10 or $12 dollars, and that the team's tradition of family packs and discount nights will continue. A good seat behind home plate will probably run about $50, and the 400 or so primo seats right behind home plate, part of the "Champion's Club," will probably run a couple hundred apiece and include parking, food, drink and wait service.

If the cheapest tickets are $12 I will be mightily upset. How about this ... you can charge $12 but then you had better make up for it by actually spending some money on players. A good start would be signing Santana since you let Hunter get away for nothing.

I'm feeling rather curmudgeonly today. "Primo" seats and $50 seats behind home plate do not excite me at all.

I want my son and I to hop on our bikes, take the Cedar Lake Trail to the ballpark, plop $20 down for some cheap tickets, $10 down for a couple of hot dogs, and enjoy the game. Please assure me that this is going to happen. Then I'll be really excited.

Posted by snackeru at January 23, 2008 12:46 PM


I can live with paying $10 for the cheapest seats if the view is actually worth it.

The reason I've gotten the cheap seats season ticket for the past few years is because the view is so bad in upper deck left field that it's only worth the $2-3 it works out to per game.

Anyone going to TwinsFest?

Posted by: Snyder at January 23, 2008 1:09 PM

I wouldn't get too worried Shane. I think they will start them out at $10 at the most. What are the cheapest tickets now, $6? I don't know, because if I'm going to go to the trouble of going to a Twins game, I'm not going to sit in bad Metrodome seats, so I get the $25 ones. At the new stadium, I'll probably be perfectly happy in the cheap seats. If the cheap seats now are $6, they would have been $8 or $9 by 2010 even in the Dome, so $10 or $12 is not outrageous.

On a side note, isn't there something in the Legistlation to ensure a certain # of 'affordable' tickets?

Posted by: David H. at January 23, 2008 1:12 PM

Here is my deal: make your money on the 13,000 premium seats. That sounds great. But make the cheap seats actually cheap. There aren't a lot of them, and if they aren't in high demand like you suggest David, then why not make them really affordable?

I love sitting in the cheap seats at the Dome.

I'll look up the actually wording in the legislation, but I don't believe it was very specific in what actually constitutes a "cheap seat."

Posted by: Shane at January 23, 2008 1:32 PM

I would like to see the Twins do what the D-Backs do in AZ. It looks like the worst seats in the new ballpark will be in the upper level of the main grandstand - the last sections in left and right fields. Those skinny sections of seats at the ends of the grandstand which hang over the RF plaza and the LF tower/bldg. In AZ, the Dbacks only sell those 2 sections on the day of the game for $1 per seat. I hope the Twins do the same as those seats are the farthest from the action and should not even be priced at $10. Maybe $5 at the very most.

Posted by: kevin in mn at January 23, 2008 2:30 PM

Shane, I would say the cheap seats are not as in demand at the Dome, they will be in the new ballpark. Also, I don't live in the Metro, so going to a game takes a deliberate amount of time and effort. My point was just that when I go to the trouble I don't want to then sit it crappy seats facing the 50 yard line. If I could go to several games a year, I'd probably share your view.

As far as them stepping up and signing Santana with this new revenue, I agree 100%.

They have already offered him something like $15, 16, 18, 21, 23 in the 5/$93 offer. Simply adding the next two years at $25 and 27 would make it 7/$145 which is basically what he's asking for. So basically over the 2013 and 2014 salaries totaling $52 million they are willing to let him go. I have heard differing reports as to how the 7 year deal effects insurance on the contract. It may be that only the 6th and 7th years are not insured, or it could be the whole contract. If it makes the whole contract uninsurable I can understand it a bit more, but if that were true I don't think the Yanks or Red Sox would take that plunge either.

So is there risk in adding those two years? Sure. But I assume two years into the contract they can re-do the insurance to cover the last 5 years. So for two years they might have to live with that $52 million hanging over there heads if Johan blows his arm out. I understand that isn't ideal...but if the condemnation on the stadium land had come back at $82 million instead of $30 million you can be darn sure Carl would have been writing a check for another $52 million without giving it another thought.

Yes, new stadiums don't come along every day. But neither due once-in-a generation pitchers.

Posted by: David H. at January 23, 2008 2:51 PM

Actually, I think the Twins will be making much of their new revenue from the suites along with the "premium" seats.

But look at one other possible bright side to slightly-less-cheap seats: hopefully it will reduce the number of bozos who show up at Yankee games and start fights in the stands.

Is $10-12 really that much for a baseball ticket? I know the cheapest seats at a T-wolves game go for $10 to sit in the back row of the upper deck behind the baskets, which is about an equivalent viewing experience to the left-field upper deck at the Dome.

How much are movie tickets now since I haven't bothered to see a movie in a theater since getting my DVD player?

As for spending more money on players, I think we can expect that will happen, but we all know a Pohlad-run team is not going to spend new revenues it doesn't have yet, so expect a Dome-based payroll for two more years and maybe three while they wait and see what the actual revenue increase with the new ballpark turns out to be.

Posted by: Snyder at January 23, 2008 4:05 PM

if the cheapest seats are just $12 bucks, i'll eat my hat. They'll be spendier than that.

Posted by: haasertime at January 23, 2008 4:13 PM

Whoa - no more dollar dogs? Please assure me that Wednesday Dollar-A-Dog night won't be ending!

Posted by: Jon at January 23, 2008 5:31 PM

Unfortunately there is no enforceable wording for the "affordable tickets" requirement in the ballpark bill. That was one of my gripes with it -- the Twins really should have been mandated to offer a set number of seats total (we may be under 40,000 now?), and a certain percentage of those seats should be sold at the average price of a movie ticket or something similar. (This idea was put forth in Jay Weiner's "Stadium Games" book.)

It would definitely make those seats priced "below market" in pro sports, but I doubt it would have made much of a difference in the Twins bottom line -- certainly nowhere near offsetting the ~$400 million in free public cash for the project. And it would have helped more of the public enjoy this alleged public works project.

If the Twins estimate $10-$12 tickets now, I'm guessing there's a good chance they will come in a few dollars higher than that. Although there may be a token section of sub-$10 cheap seats, which is a common but mostly empty gesture employed at many new ballparks. In this aspect, for the regular, frugal ballpark attendee, the Metrodome will definitely be missed.

Posted by: spycake at January 23, 2008 6:21 PM

Liriano gets a DUI!?!?! so much for the baseball role model thing....

Posted by: Whaaa at January 23, 2008 6:45 PM

That Liriano gets a DUI thing is just a bad link on the Star Tribune's website. It refers to the incident that occured two years ago, not something new. But for some reason it is coming up in 'related article' links on the current Twins pages.

Posted by: David H. at January 23, 2008 11:25 PM

Frankly, I think there is much ado about nothing here Shane. If you are willing to spend $10/tix, what's the real difference in $12/tix?

Seriously, you don't mind paying extra over a year for the stadium tax through other purchases which would total $20-$30; and you would go to what 4-5 games/yr so that is $20 there. I really don't see what the problem is.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at January 24, 2008 10:45 AM

Remember, he's Norwegian Craig.....Norwegians are known for moths nesting in their wallets.

Posted by: kevin in az at January 24, 2008 1:31 PM

If you are willing to spend $10/tix, what's the real difference in $12/tix?

I can't speak for Shane, but if these figures represent the lowest ticket price, the latter ($12) is almost double the current lowest price ($7).

Of course Shane doesn't care financially about the $2 difference, just like most "stadium opponents" don't care financially about the extra pennies in their sales tax. But there is definitely a philosophical issue here: $10 (or less) represents a much closer link (~40%) to the current level of tickets in the Metrodome. $12 (or greater) indicates a ticket structure increasingly detached from that of the Dome, and would pretty much indicate the club is more interested in maximizing every possible revenue source rather than living up to the "affordable tickets" pledges in the ballpark plan.

It's a little distorted, because the Twins are essentially "maximizing revenue" with their current price structure, but the Dome limits how much maximizing they can do, to the benefit of the cheap-seat-dwelling fan. So even if the prices jump dramatically, and it's a virtual lock that they will, the Twins won't really be changing their strategy -- rather, the change of venue will dramatically alter the effects of the same strategy.

Posted by: spycake at January 24, 2008 1:39 PM

Spycake makes some good points but let's remember that this ballpark will open in 2010. What will those $7.00 seats cost at the Dome in 2009? If they stayed at HHH in 2010? I'm guessing at least $10.00.

Has anyone looked at the ticket prices for 2008? The Homerun porch seats (lower left field and center) are $20.00! Ticket prices are going through the roof -- new ballpark or no new ballpark. Btw, if you want to see Brewers, Yankees, or Red Sox this year those $7.00 "cheap seats" will cost you $12.00.

Posted by: Freealonzo at January 24, 2008 4:12 PM

I agree with Free.

As I've mentioned, I've had the cheap seats season ticket for the past few years and while it's a great deal, most folks that ever want to go to a game with me do not want to sit in the upper deck left field, so I end up buying individual game tickets for home run porch or some other area a couple times a season.

I've thought about upgrading to a Flex-40 package, but the cheapest of those (home run porch) is like $750 ($18.75 per seat!), which is quite a jump from $250 for the cheap seats season ticket.

Posted by: Snyder at January 24, 2008 4:41 PM

Has anyone ever noticed how jammed the parking garage is during what would be day games? you can see this on the stadium webcam. The top floor is jam packed at 1:00 PM. How's parking going to be at this place? (for weekday games)

Posted by: naronzlb at January 24, 2008 6:27 PM

Free -- the upper GA tickets that are now $7 were $6 as far back as 2003. That's a $1 increase over 5 years, $2 over 6 years, even with increased demand and competitive teams on the field most years. You really think those seats would go up $3 at the Metrodome in the next two years?

But even that is beside the point -- those cheap seats are mostly an afterthought for the Twins at the Dome, and they won't exist for more than one or two sections at most in the new stadium. The Twins want to limit or eliminate them due to the very fact that they are plentiful and affordable, and that is definitely contrary to the general public's interest, no matter what seats any of us may personally like to sit in or afford.

Like Shane previously said, I'd be happy if there are a significant quantity of seats in the new park for $10. But if A) the quantity is limited to one token section (or worse, a few token games/rows), or B) the cheapest regular tickets come in at $12+, that would be further confirmation the Twins are concerned more with maximizing ALL possible revenue sources than with even mild financial sacrifices to engender public good will. (Not that there really should be any doubt about this in pro sports these days... and frankly I'm rather surprised at Shane's reaction to such a revelation.)

Posted by: spycake at January 25, 2008 8:48 AM

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