Twins Fans Make a Statement
Looking for a positive storyline from the Twins-Indians four-game series at Target Field? While the hometown club lost three of four to Cleveland, the fans came through for the Twins.
The Indians scooted out of Minneapolis in a first place tie in the AL Central with Minnesota but don’t blame local baseball patrons for lack of support. Series attendance averaged 35,568 with a four game total of 142,275—the fourth highest for a four-game series in Target Field history. The largest crowd was Sunday afternoon, a reported sellout of 37,849.
Fans turned out even though they could have stayed at home watching the series on HD TV. Many drove through rush hour traffic and construction for the Thursday and Friday evening games. Fans sat through a two-hour rain delay on Saturday night and arrived on Sunday despite threatening morning skies and a 2-1 series lead by the Indians.
At the ballpark fans mostly waited for something to cheer about, and when those moments arrived they roared their approval. The Indians dominated the series except for Saturday night when Cleveland killers Jake Odorizzi and Max Kepler led Minnesota to a 4-1 win. But seldom did patrons boo their heroes, while instead showing off their best Midwest civility.
Twins marketers entered this season facing an apathetic customer base. After the ball club disappointed last season with a 78-84 record, home attendance totaled less than 2 million for the second time in three years at Target Field, the much praised outdoor ballpark that opened in 2010. (The team had attracted over 3 million fans in each of the first two seasons in its new home.)
Before the 2019 season the fanbase looked at the Twins and wondered if the team might at best finish five or 10 games over .500? That didn’t stir a rush to the box office and neither did a roster lacking star power. Then a cold and soggy spring just put more gloom on attendance prospects for 2019.
But the Twins became the most homer-happy team in baseball with the likes of Kepler, Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario, Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano and others. Odorizzi and Jose Berrios pitched like All-Stars and Taylor Rogers was a savior out of the bullpen. The springtime Twins won a lot of games and jumped to a double-digit lead over the second place and defending division champion Indians.
The Twins became a happening story nationally and at home. The club’s marketers responded with a smorgasbord of ticket options. The fans dove in with newfound interest and passion. As of yesterday morning Minnesota ranked 15th among 30 MLB franchises in attendance, averaging 27,333 fans per game, according to Espn.com.
What this all means is that the 2019 Twins are reaffirming this is a quality baseball market—even if it’s not a great one. No, this isn’t St. Louis or Boston where owners might name their pets “Stan the Man,” or “Teddy Ballgame.” But give this area a fair shake with a competitive and entertaining ball club and the baseball public will respond.
Fans from Minneapolis-St. Paul and parts beyond have even made the Twins American League attendance leaders over the years. Since the franchise’s arrival here in 1961, the Twins have been tops in total home attendance three times. The club has also gone over the MLB coveted 3 million season mark three times.
This has long been a football town with the Vikings dominating sports interest for decades. If the Gophers could ever become elite the football madness will go to yet another level in the state. But the Twins have their hard-core following, too, with many in the fanbase looking like poster folks for our “Minnesota Nice” reputation as warm-hearted and family loving people.
The turnstile turnaround for the Twins (TV ratings are way up, too) comes at a time when others are in the public doldrums. Sources say the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Wild are struggling with ticket sales. In this overcrowded sports market place, a downward trend for one organization can help another attract discretionary dollars from both the public and businesses.
In the summer, the Twins compete for attention from the Vikings, Gophers, Loons, Lynx, Saints and Canterbury Park. That’s not to mention the frequent magic of summer weather drawing people to so many recreational opportunities either in town—or as they say—“up north.”
The Twins are well positioned now for short and long-term success with their customers. Large crowds are certain for the remaining schedule, including possible sellouts when the Indians return to Minneapolis for a series September 6-8. And this fall the club will see resurgence in ticket sales including their season tickets that have been trending downward for years.
The Twins’ success comes at a time when MLB attendance is projected to be down for a fourth consecutive season, according to a July 11 Foxbusiness.com story. The grand old game has its issues including pace of play and length of games that typically log in at over three hours. Add in commuting time and families can be spending over five hours and more than $200 to be bored with their ballpark experience.
Not much complaining here, however. As the Twins push toward a possible division title for the first time since 2010, and threaten the all-time MLB record for home runs, the mantra from this marketplace is, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”