Despite quiet offseason, Twins still on track to pack Target Field

Categories: Twins
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Target Field continues to lay golden eggs for the Twins, but the honeymoon won't last forever.
The Twins lost 99 games last season, then followed that dismal compaign with a relatively quiet offseason where management cut the team's payroll from $115 million to about $100 million.

As Jim Souhan writes: "As [the Angels and Tigers] have invested a combined $454 million on two players, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, the Twins have countered with Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit." Those aren't exactly the types of signings that re-energize a downtrodden fanbase.

But despite the bad season-quiet offseason combo, the Twins still expect to pack Target Field this season.

During the team's media luncheon last Friday, President Dave St. Peter said the Twins are on track to approach attendance of 3 million for the third straight season.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that to date, the club has sold 2.2 million tickets for 2012. 85 percent of season ticket holders renewed, meaning there are about 24,000 season ticket holders, down just slightly from last year's number of 25,000. Despite a brutal 2011, the Twins season ticket base still ranks in the MLB's top ten.

A total of 2.2 million 2012 tickets have already been sold. Last year, the Twins' total attendance was over 3.1 million, good for fourth in baseball.

This season's positive attendance outlook shows that Target Field's honeymoon period is still going strong. But history suggests it'll end sooner or later if the Twins don't return to playing winning baseball.
After a few years of sellouts, attendance at the former Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) fell along with the Indians' fortunes.

An instructive case in point is the Cleveland Indians experience at Jacobs Field. Three years after Jacobs opened in 1994, the Indians made it to the World Series and sold over 3.4 million tickets. But the ballpark's novelty eventually wore off, and soon attendance began sinking along with the team's place in the standings. In 2003 the Indians only drew 1.7 million fans, and Cleveland hasn't approached an attendance total of 3 million in a decade.

So while St. Peter and the rest of Twins management can count on strong attendance this season no matter how the team performs, Target Field won't lay golden eggs forever. At some point, attendance will again correlate with on-field performance, and when that happens signing the likes of of Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit almost certainly won't be enough to keep attendance anywhere in the ballpark of 3 million.

Read also:
-- Twins payroll: Why in Gardy's name is it being slashed?

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