Hartman: St. Peter says Twins still drawing strong support

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 30, 2013 - 11:48 PM
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A bicyclist sped past Target Field on Saturday, when temperatures reached the 50s in Minneapolis. It’s not expected to be as pleasant Monday, as near-freezing temperatures are forecast for the Twins’ season opener against the Detroit Tigers.

Photo: KEN CHIA • kchia@startribune.com ,

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Despite two losing seasons where the Twins not only failed to make the playoffs but had trouble avoiding 100 losses, the marketplace continues to show support for the team, club President Dave St. Peter said.

“The foundation of support for both ticket sales and sponsorships ranks among the most avid markets in the game,” St. Peter reported. “We truly appreciate our fans’ patience and loyalty and look forward to rewarding them with a return to contention on the field as soon as possible.”

The Twins have sold 1.95 million total tickets this season. Their 19,000 full-season equivalent ticket sales are expected to rank in the top 10 season ticket bases in the major leagues.

However, there remains a significant number of single-game tickets still available, especially for April and May home games, including the home opener Monday against the American League champion Detroit Tigers.

St. Peter also reported that the Twins have surpassed their total 2012 corporate partnership revenue, and said growth has been spurred by new or expanded partnerships with companies such as T-Mobile, Buffalo Wild Wings, Papa John’s Pizza, Great Clips and Window Concepts of Minnesota.

Weather always considered

St. Peter said Target Field was built with a focus on providing fans as much comfort as possible on cold-weather days such as the one forecasted for Monday’s opener.

For fans who might be concerned about watching the Twins in colder temperatures, St. Peter said the team always was aware of how necessary it would be to build an accommodating park for cold-weather games early and late in the season. That was something the team focused on from the first design meeting through the final session, he said.

“The park was designed to maximize seats and standing-room areas with both great sightlines and ample shelter, concourses aimed at blocking wind, interior spaces built to welcome fans for a respite from the cold and more radiant heat than any ballpark in America,” St. Peter said.

“While Monday’s weather will be less than perfect, we’re confident in our ability to ensure a great gameday experience.”

As for the condition of the field and the ability of the players to produce at their best on a chilly days St. Peter said the field would be in as good condition as it would be on a warmer day.

“Head groundskeeper Larry DiVito and his staff deserve significant credit for ensuring that Target Field is ready to for Opening Day,” St. Peter said.

According to St. Peter, DiVito and his staff have the greatest challenge in all of MLB in regards to a harsh Minnesota winter combined with an April 1 home opener.

“Our field is as good as any playing surface in baseball,” he said. “That only happens thanks to the artistry of Larry DiVito and thousands of hours of labor by a dedicated group of men and women.”

Will lose talent

The Gophers men’s hockey team that was eliminated from the NCAA tournament in a 3-2 overtime loss to Yale on Friday might not be nearly as talented next season, because several key players could decide to turn pro before their senior seasons.

While coach Don Lucia’s Gophers boast only one senior on the roster, their junior class is loaded with players who have been drafted and could bolt for the pros before next season. The most likely to leave would be Nick Bjugstad, who led the team with 21 goals this season. Bjugstad was selected 19th overall in the 2010 draft by the Florida Panthers, and he was speculated as possibly leaving last year before deciding to stay.

But there are others as well: Zach Budish, whose 36 points tied for third on the team, was selected in the second round by the Nashville Predators in 2009. Mark Alt, who led all defensemen with 50 blocked shots, was selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, and fellow blueliner Justin Holl was taken in that same round by the Chicago Blackhawks. Nate Condon, who had 31 points this season, was selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft by the Colorado Avalanche. And the Wild has the rights to leading scorer Erik Haula, who had 51 points in 37 games, after selecting him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft.

Help for Yale

There was a lone Minnesota native on the Yale squad that upset the Gophers in Grand Rapids, Mich.: sophomore defenseman Tommy Fallen. A former standout at Armstrong, Fallen was Yale’s Rookie of the Year last season. This season, he was the team’s fourth-leading scorer, and leading scorer among defensemen, with seven goals and 15 assists in 33 games. He had four of Yale’s 26 shots on goal against the Gophers on Friday.

SID’s JOTTINGS

• NFL.com reported Thursday that former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield is being heavily courted by the Washington Redskins. The 14-year veteran was taken to dinner by team owner Dan Snyder, star quarterback Robert Griffin III and coach Mike Shanahan.

• Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe was named to the winter Academic All-Big Ten team. Mbakwe is majoring in applied kinesiology. Incidentally, Mbakwe had a $2 million insurance policy taken out before the season in case he got injured and couldn’t play pro basketball.

• Miguel Sano, the most coveted prospect in the Twins minor league system, is very close to Yankee superstar Robinson Cano. They are from the same community in the Dominican Republic and Cano reportedly has taken Sano under his wing. So it was very big for Sano to make his major league baseball spring training debut against Cano and the Yankees last week.

• Wolves center Nikola Pekovic, who sat out Saturday’s game with Memphis, has grabbed an offensive rebound in each of the past 68 games. This is the second-longest active streak in the NBA. Kevin Love is first with 75. Pekovic had seven offensive rebounds in Friday night’s victory over Oklahoma City.

• Eric Hartzell, son of former Gophers men’s hockey player Kevin Hartzell, is one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. The Quinnipiac senior was the best goalie in college hockey this year.

• The Gophers men’s track and field team, which finished tied for 12th at the NCAA indoor meet, ranks 19th in the nation heading into the outdoor season. The Gophers will lose the services of sprinter Devin Crawford-Tufts, who was third in the 60 meters at the Big Ten indoor meet, as he concentrates on spring football as a wide receiver.



 

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