Sunday was a perfect day for baseball, and it was the kind of game the Twins — and their fans — envisioned more of in 2016.
Even though a three-run lead evaporated late because of suspect relief pitching and defense, the power of youth — and Max Kepler’s walk-off home run — saved the day in a 7-4 victory over Boston. It was the exception to the rule in a season during which a nice outing at a beautiful ballpark has been the Twins’ chief selling point.
For a fan who wants to go to a handful of games a year, maybe that’s enough. For the diehard season-ticket holder, well, the Twins are aiming toward their fifth miserable season out of seven at Target Field. Their patience is wearing thin, and time is of the essence.
Twins President Dave St. Peter on Friday — before the Red Sox took won the first two games by a combined score of 23-5 and the Twins settled on a 19-43 record even after Sunday’s victory — said the club normally works on finalizing its next-year ticket pricing and strategy in July and August.
When you’re in the midst of the kind of year the Twins are, that isn’t easy. Factor in an increasingly nimble secondhand market, and there are plenty of fans who will consider ditching season tickets in 2017. St. Peter was asked if the Twins have to be creative — with prices or otherwise — with that in mind.
“Everybody has ideas — things immediately talked about like discounting tickets or concessions,” he said. “Certainly I think those things are appropriate talking points. But I don’t think price is an impediment to coming to our game. I think if we have a product that’s compelling, I don’t hear the price discussion.”
The Twins went the bargain route during their darkest days in the Metrodome. (Raise your hand if you can remember getting a season ticket for $99.) With those days in mind, St. Peter noted that it takes “a long time to get back from that from a business standpoint.”
St. Peter added: “We’ll try to be strategic, but [discounts] are short-term fixes. Fans are less concerned about discounts and more concerned about what action is going to be taken to ensure we fix the on-field product.”
But there’s a difference between being a little below-average and historically bad (the Twins are on pace to be far closer to the latter than the former). They have between 13,000 and 14,000 full season-ticket equivalents this year, about 1,000 more than last year.
That base of paying customers is frustrated — and rightfully so, St. Peter said.
“They want more wins. Our fans are absolutely thrilled with the Target Field experience with the exception of one thing — and that one thing matters the most,” he said. “They were very encouraged by 2015 and attending meaningful games throughout the season. They had high hopes [this year] and it hasn’t happened. That’s an understatement.”
St. Peter was asked if there was any final message he had for fans. “There isn’t a button to push to fix the first third of the season,” he said. “But our ownership takes our current state of affairs very seriously and there isn’t any aspect of our business that isn’t being looked at to do everything necessary to win games going forward — not just for the rest of 2016 but for 2017 and beyond.”
That’s good, but also easier said than done. If the Twins are playing at the same dismal pace when season-ticket renewals go out, one has the feeling the silence you hear in 2017 will be Target Field.