Thursday, June 11, 2009

Minnesota Twins way off target with Target Field

The Minnesota Twins had been trying to blackmail the people of Minnesota into buying them a new ballpark for about a decade. From their inception in the 1960's to 1981, I think, they played in Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn. They moved into the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for the 1982 season, along with the Vikings. Bloomington blew up Metropolitan Stadium in 1991 or so to make room for the Mall of America. You can still see home plate inside the Mall. The Metrodome became obsolete for the Twins by the early '90's, when their American League rivals began moving into new ballparks. The Tribe, the Orioles, the Rangers, the White Sox--oh, those cute ballparks with all those profitable skyboxes! And the Twins were stuck with the Metrodome, courtesy of the taxpayers, which was built with no skyboxes. (The Twins and Vikings retrofitted luxury suites into their stadium. They are not as nice and do not produce as much revenue. Also, there is no club seating level.) Gov. Jesse Ventura complained about the Twins and Vikings demanding a new stadium, and he left office back in 2003.

Target Field's budget is $522 million. The Minnesota Twins will contribute $130 million, or just under one-fourth of the projected cost. A Hennepin County sales tax is producing most of the taxpayer revenue.

The Twins managed to extract a new stadium out of the taxpayers, but they couldn't shaft the taxpayers for an additional $100 million for a retractable dome. (The Metrodome was also built on the cheap.) How does a $522 ballpark not have a roof? Does the budget include fur coats for the construction workers? So Target Field is going to be an outdoor stadium. Big mistake. Outdoor baseball in Minneapolis in April, May and September? With most of those games at night? Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! It could be in the 30's. Almost every night. Games will be snowed out every season. Are Twins fans ready for this?

Here's what I would have done if I were the Twins' owners, the Pohlad family, and $100 million short. Well, since I'm worth several billion dollars, I would just kick in the extra $100 mil myself. Otherwise, I would build the ballpark with a retractable roof in mind so that it could be added once the financing became available. I would enclose and heat the concourses so fans have a place to take breaks from shivering in their seats. And I would hold games before May 15 in the Metrodome until the City of Minneapolis decides to blow it up to build a new retractable-dome football stadium for the Vikings. The Vikings are begging for fans to pay for it on their stadium website.

I don't like fans being insulted. Here are situations in which I believe teams insult fans:
$8 beer, every NFL stadium
$23 parking, White Sox
forcing fans to pay top dollar to watch the Cubs in that outdated dump Wrigley Field
forcing fans to sit outdoors to watch baseball in very cold-climate Minneapolis
forcing fans to put up one thin dime for stadiums to be enjoyed by wealthy owners and players, with ticket prices that are typically too expensive for most fans

I wish the people of Minneapolis had told their county legislators, "Don't give the Twins a new ballpark. But if you do, make sure it's warm inside." The Twins are going to end up with a lot of empty seats--fans watching on tv--until first-pitch temperatures rise above 60.


Anonymous said...

Minnesota Twins should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. I really like them; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here:

JMNOR55 said...

Well, other than San Francisco's AT&T Park, which was built exclusively with private funds, all of the new ballparks are primarily taxpayer-financed. Pro sports is becoming increasingly a wealthy person's pursuit or pastime. How can a lower-income person follow the teams if they don't have cable? Newspaper and radio, and see what's happened to the newspaper business.