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Twins fans welcome; nuts shunned

  • Article by: Jay Weiner
  • Star Tribune
  • April 27, 2007 - 6:20 PM

Watching a baseball game in a stadium and munching on a bag of peanuts is commonplace for most of us. But, for some kids, even contact with that bothersome peanut shell dust can turn deadly.

So the Twins announced Friday that they've set aside four dates this season at the Metrodome in which one section will be "peanut free."

If it sounds a bit extreme, medically speaking, it's not, said Dr. Pramod Kelkar of Maple Grove, who specializes in food allergies.

And if it sounds a bit extreme, from a sports niche marketing perspective, it's just one more effort by Twins vice president Patrick Klinger to make the team's games more family friendly. Besides, growing up in Winona years ago, Klinger had a friend whose mother died after a reaction to peanuts.

"Peanuts are so symbolic, so connected to baseball," said Klinger, who directs the team's marketing efforts. "But if you're allergic to peanuts and you're trying to enjoy the game and the gentleman next to you is eating that bag of peanuts, it could be fatal. There are parents who are fearful of bringing their kids out to a stadium that is filled with peanuts."

To get them out of their shell, on June 27, July 31, August 20 and September 17, the Skybox in right field -- often sold to groups -- will be set aside as a peanut-free zone.

Tickets will cost $29 a piece, Klinger said. Dr. Kelkar said it is relatively uncommon for children to be so allergic to peanuts that simply sitting next to someone eating a peanut could trigger a serious reaction. But it can occur that the dust from peanuts is inhaled and someone suffers from anaphylaxis, which is a complete and sometimes fatal allergic reaction.

More common among children, would be touching someone with peanut residue or kissing someone who's eaten a peanut. And that could turn dangerous.

"I certainly think it's a good idea," Kelkar said of the peanut-free days. "It will offer them an option to enjoy the game without feeling any risk."

Last year, with limited publicity, the Twins held one peanut-free day. That game attracted about 70 customers. Klinger said he's confident the 110-seat Skybox in right field will sell out this season. According to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, more than three million Americans suffer from a peanut allergy.

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