Posted at 9:28 AM on June 3, 2008
by Steve Rudolph
Apparently this is no longer Twins Territory.
The Twins moved to within a half-game of the White Sox after another thrilling come-from-behind victory. Yet only 20,168 were at the Metrodome to see it firsthand.
A four-game weekend series against the Yankees used to draw a minimum of 120,000 fans. This season, the announced crowds totaled 114,276.
The Twins are averaging 24,617 fans, down from 27,677 at the same time last year and well below their 2007 season average of 28,350.
I don't get it. Sure they've lost some stars and the expectations were pretty low to start the season. But they are 30-27, have some of baseball's most exciting young players, and seem to play their best when facing the league's best.
Perhaps it's the backlash for letting Torii Hunter depart and trading Johan Santana to the Mets.
Maybe fans are worried about the high price of gas and cutting back on discretionary spending. (The Twins seem to think this is a factor.)
Or possibly fans can't bear to go inside the Metrodome when there are finally signs that the worst winter in Minnesota history has come to an end.
Tell me Twins fans, which is it? What is preventing you from getting behind the Twins this season?
Well, my excuse is I don't live in MN, but I go to all the games when they come to Chicago.
My guess it's a bit of all of those reasons. Now that the new ballpark is starting to take shape, people don't want to go to the metrodome.
For me, it's knowing that we have an outdoor stadium finally being built. That excitement keeps me from going to more games at the Dome. When a new stadium was just talk, going to the Dome was all we could get. But now, things have changed.
My guess is that most people like myself, cannot afford to go to as many games as in the past. With rising food and fuel costs, the cost of going to a game has increased. So people, like myself, who usually attended 15-20 home games per year are going to fewer games. I really don’t see the loss of Torii and Johan as the main factor. Mauer, Morneau, and Cuddyer are all very popular, and Gomez and Casilla are too exciting to miss, so the main reason I think people are attending games less frequently, is the increased cost of living.
I think one of the biggest reason is that the team didn't make the playoffs last year. That always seems to help out the next year. If the team stays hot, more fans will come out.
At least the Twins don't have it as bad as the Tampa Bay Rays... the best team in the National League with the second-worst attendance.
@Yickit - while you can't discount the cost of attending a game, I think the new faces are a factor. For the casual fan who might catch the score at the end of their local TV news, the names Monroe and Gomez -- and Everett, Casilla, Young, Harris, Lamb... -- are far from familiar.
But yea, when a gallon of gas costs more than Dome Dog, it's going to keep a few of us at home.
It could also be that fans just aren't sold yet on this team.
There is a literally a giant countdown banner behind the Home Run Porch in the Dome ticking off the days until the new stadium. Almost as if to say, "We're only 1xx games away from being out of this craptastic venue!" Not exactly encouraging people to make their way out to the Dump.
I will probably go to about as many games this year as last (18 or so). I'm sure there are a lot of reasons that fewer people are at the games, as others have commented--I just wanted to say WORD on the sadness of how few people were there yesterday. Come on people, it's the Yankees! We're in second! Maybe Livan's not the most exciting pitcher and school's still in session, but really, it's nationally televised. Sigh.
To quote a certain ex-president: "It's the economy, stupid."
I won't be going to quite as many games this season (although still probably too many to fit in my budget...but sometimes baseball is more important than food), and I like this year's team as much or more than the '07 squad. I went to the Saturday game this series, and I thought it was a good crowd, considering.
People are cutting out extra expenses everywhere. Movie ticket sales are down, concert sales are down. Entertainment dollars are the easiest expense to cut. Plus, Yankees tickets are premium, so I wouldn't blame people for saying "I think I'll skip this one, and see a game that's cheaper."
I'd say the Metrodome is a large part of it, including too many new faces for all the bandwagon fans.
That being said, I came to a strange revelation a couple days back: I'm gonna kind of miss the Dome... Yes, it will be wonderful to have a new stadium, and hopefully that bring attendance up, get more revenue into food and suites, and help get our players better contracts (you owe us now, Pohlad), but I grew up in the Metrodome. It's imperfect, it's ugly, it's horrible for baseball, but I'll miss it a bit all the same. So I say, come on down and see the Thunderdome, while we still can...