Sid Hartman: Twins get All-Star financial boost

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 31, 2012 - 12:28 AM

 The 2014 game at Target Field comes just in time to stave off waning ticket sales and growing fan apathy.

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Bud Selig during Wednesday's All-Star Game announcement at Target Field.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is a man of his word, so when he told late Twins owner Carl Pohlad, "You do all you can [financially] to get a new stadium and I will get you an All-Star Game," he meant it.

Selig and Pohlad had a great relationship. In fact, every Saturday morning Pohlad would phone Selig to talk about baseball and life.

I'm sure Selig reminisced about those conversations after Wednesday's news conference announcing the awarding of the 2014 All-Star Game to Target Field when the Pohlad family had a long dinner with the commissioner afterward.

This was a very tough decision for Selig because, while the Twins franchise is 52 years old, the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field will celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2014. But Selig said he's known for some time that Target Field would be the host stadium in two years despite the centennial anniversary at Wrigley, and he stuck by that.

Rest assured, the Cubs have a good chance to get the All-Star Game in 2015.

One good thing about the All-Star Game coming to Minneapolis is that, in addition to the Twin Cities benefiting to the tune of $75 million to $100 million in all types of business during the activities surrounding the game, Major League Baseball awards some $5 million of the gate receipts to different local charities.

Twins get ticket help

Being awarded the All-Star Game couldn't come at a better time with the Twins struggling on the field and at the gate. There is no doubt that has made it difficult to sell season tickets, suites and sponsorships for 2013 and 2014.

Financially, the Twins will not make much of a profit this season after having to contribute $12 million to the revenue-sharing pot. But now they can offer incentive-based packages that will lure fans by giving them the first chance to get tickets to All-Star Game events.

The Twins timed the sending of season-ticket renewal notices so they could offer those who keep their season tickets priority for getting All-Star Game tickets.

The Twins will not increase ticket prices for 2013, with most seats remaining at their 2012 levels. In addition, the 3,500 seats in the Home Run Porch and Grandstand sections will be reduced $4 for the 2013 season. And for the first time, all Twins season-ticket holders in 2013 will receive 10 percent off all food, beverage and merchandise purchases.

By offering these discounts, the Twins hope to keep their current 23,000 full-season equivalents, which ranks as the seventh most in all of Major League Baseball.

Yes, the All-Star announcement came just in time, but in addition to continuing to fill Target Field, the team will have to win more games if they hope to maintain fan attendance.

Great Wild interest

The signing of free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to record contracts is paying off at the gate for the Wild. Craig Leipold, owner of the Wild, reports that "the sale of season tickets is beyond what we expected, particularly because we're two months past the big announcement. We're in the midst of a very hot summer when people are not talking about hockey, but almost every day we're at the point now where our ticket sales are still going at about $100,000 a day, which at this point of time is unheard of."

Leipold said that the sales are so brisk that they have to decide whether to cut off season ticket sales at 14,000 or let them go a little higher, before making single-game tickets available.

And Leipold added: "The jersey sales are going fantastic. We have the State Fair going now and the jerseys with Suter and Parise and [Mikko] Koivu are selling like hotcakes."

Jottings

• At one time, Denny Sanford of Sanford Medical in Sioux Falls, S.D., came close to donating enough money for the building of the Gophers football stadium to have it named after him. Recently, Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague and Sanford flew to Lincoln, Neb., to look at all the athletic facilities, especially those for the football team. The word is that Sanford is interested in contributing money to improve the Gophers football facilities and something could happen in the near future.

• Twins President Dave St. Peter is in Fort Myers, Fla., trying to get the politicians to vote in favor of remodeling the team's spring training stadium.

• Twins pitcher Scott Diamond, who is considered a reserved guy in the clubhouse, talked about the six-game suspension he received for throwing behind Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton: "I had a lot of guys saying I was a 'bad boy' now, or have a different reputation. I think a lot of my buddies that I played ball with and went to college with and friends from back home, they all know I have a fiery side and I'll always stick up [for my teammates]. If that's what's called for, that's what I'll do."

• Brian Dozier, the Twins shortstop sent to Class AAA Rochester on Aug. 15 to regain his batting stroke, is hitting only .119 (7-for-59) since rejoining for the Red Wings.

• Gophers basketball player Trevor Mbakwe, still recovering following knee surgery, will be able to practice when drills start Oct. 12, but he won't be able to scrimmage until the end of October.

• From a recruiting standpoint in 2013, the Gophers basketball coaches are looking primarily for forwards, since three of the four seniors who graduate after this season -- Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Ingram -- are forwards. So on the weekend of Sept. 7, these high school forwards will be visiting campus: Gavin Schilling of Findlay Prep in Las Vegas; Cedric Hankerson from Coral Reef High School in Miami; and Nigel Hayes from Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio. The Gophers also would like to get a visit from former Benilde-St. Margaret's forward Kyle Washington, who last season averaged a double-double for the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut and plans to attend Brewster Academy in New Hampshire for his senior season.

• As the O'Malley group finalized their purchase of the San Diego Padres, St. Thomas alumni and San Diego businessman Ron Fowler will be the key executive of the team, serving as its representative at owners meetings. Fowler has lived in San Diego for 38 years, and when asked about how it feels to be an owner of the Padres at 68 years old he said, "I can't believe how damn lucky I am."

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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