Dave St. Peter was making a campus visit to St. John’s with one of his sons several years ago. The St. Thomas football team was also visiting to play the Johnnies.
“I had never been to a Tommies-Johnnies game,’’ St. Peter said. “I was blown away by the atmosphere in Collegeville that weekend.’’
St. Peter, the Twins president, ran into Glenn Caruso at one of the frequent Kenny Chesney concerts at Target Field. Caruso is the coach behind the tremendous Tommies turnaround.
“I asked Glenn if St. Thomas would have any interest in playing a home game at Target Field — particularly against St. John’s,’’ St. Peter said. “Glenn’s answer was, ‘Maybe.’ ”
The thought hung there for a couple of years and then, last summer, St. Peter saw a 2017 schedule.
“We tried to get MLB to change the 10-game road trip that we’re on right now,’’ St. Peter said. “They wouldn’t budge. Then, I saw the St. Thomas schedule, and there was a home game with the Johnnies in the middle of the road trip.’’
The Twins and St. Thomas made a deal for this Saturday’s game. The Tommies received a financial guarantee, plus a cut of sales that went above and beyond. St. Peter was hoping for a crowd of 25,000.
The ticket sales have gone above and beyond — to 34,000 as of Thursday, 48 hours before kickoff.
“All our suites are sold,’’ St. Peter said. “All our areas for groups are sold.’’
There’s a good chance Saturday’s game at Target Field will double the Division III attendance record for football.
The record is listed as 17,535 for Wisconsin-Oshkosh at Wisconsin-Whitewater last October. The next three largest crowds have been for Johnnies-Tommies games in 2010, 2015 and 2016.
“It’s been amazing … and with [groundskeeper] Larry DeVito and his staff, the field will be back in excellent shape for baseball by the time our club finally gets home next Friday,’’ St. Peter said.