The Twins on Wednesday announced a new Ballpark Pass deal for the months of April and May: $99 for access to 30 home games — all of them except the home opener — in those two months.
No, that is not a misprint.
There is some fine print, such as you don’t get a seat for the games. Basically, “Ballpark Access” is what used to be known as a standing-room only ticket. You choose every game you want to go to, and the ticket is delivered to your mobile device.
Still, this is a fairly absurd deal — working out to just a little more than $3 per game if you went to all 30 — considering the cheapest individual regularly priced ticket you can get to a game is $6 — and that’s only offered for select games. There’s pretty good variety of opponents; only the Royals are here twice in the first two months. You also get to see the White Sox, Indians, Tigers, A’s, Red Sox, Rockies, Rays and Astros.
The offer is clearly a nod to declining overall attendance at Target Field — which didn’t get any help from last year’s 59-103 record — and the annual struggle to attract fans in colder weather before school gets out. The Twins drew 40,000+ for their home opener April 11 last season, but the number was barely 20,000 for the next game and dipped below that mark several times in the first two months.
The overall attendance at Target Field in 2016 was 1,963,912 — the seventh consecutive season it decreased since the ballpark opened. In both 2010 and 2011, attendance topped 3 million fans.
The Twins’ strategy appears to be essentially: hey, there’s room. Let’s let people in, hope they buy some concessions and expose them to what the organization hopes is a better product — perhaps converting some of those Ballpark Pass holders into regular ticket buyers or even season-ticket holders as time goes on.
It’s a practical strategy, but there is also some risk when you devalue your product to such a level as the Twins are doing now. It’s not quite to the old days of the Metrodome, when you could get an upper deck general admission SEASON TICKET for $99, but it is far cheaper than any other deal I can recall in Target Field history. It can feel less special to attend a game when a price is so low, and it can also alienate ticket buyers who paid more to get in.
The Wolves tried similar things in recent years after mighty struggles, offering season ticket packages with a per-game price equivalent to whatever pick the Wolves got in the NBA draft lottery. I went in on that deal with some friends during a couple seasons; the seats were lousy, but the price was right. The price being so cheap, though, also made it easy to skip a game or care less about it.
In any event, I’ll be interested to see what kind of traction the Twins get from this experiment.