FORT MYERS, Fla. – After a 78-win season in 2018 produced the lowest attendance in Target Field history, the Twins “realize we have a lot of work to do” to win fans back, team President Dave St. Peter said Monday. They are starting by offering full-season ballpark access at cut-rate prices.
The Twins on Monday began selling “Twins passes” for the 2019 season, ticket plans that allow fans to get into Target Field as many as 79 times for a flat fee. It’s a season-long extension of their ballpark-pass programs from the past two Aprils, but this version, available only for the next few weeks, come with an added bonus: a seat.
“We’ve had some nice success with the subscription product the last couple of years. We view it as a trend — the future of ticketing,” St. Peter said. “Fans want flexibility, to be assured of a seat whenever they want to come out to the park.”
The subscriptions, billed in monthly installments, are valid for 79 games (Opening Day and Joe Mauer Day on June 15 excluded), no matter how many games you attend. They are available without a seat for $294, with an upper-deck seat for $494 and with a lower-deck seat for $894. That means a fan attending every game could get into the ballpark for as little as $3.72 a night, and could have an upper-deck seat for $7.52 or a lower-deck seat for $11.32. By contrast, single-game tickets in those sections cost anywhere from $25 to $70 each.
“It’s based on fan research. There’s a new generation of fans who just want access to the ballpark, who like to watch the game from various different spots, or hang out at the Bat & Barrel [public bar] or Hrbek’s,” said St. Peter, who watched attendance drop to 1,959,187 last season, the Twins’ lowest since 2004, when the team still called the Metrodome home. “We recognize we need to find ways to connect with younger fans, to push our attendance back to a level that’s representative of the market.”
Passes are electronic (accessible via app) and non-transferable, so they won’t be available on secondary markets. Pass holders with seat benefits can request a seat beginning one week before the game, or simply show up at the park. Tickets from the Twins’ stock of unsold seats will be assigned randomly — though all will be infield seats or in foul territory down the lines — and fans attending with fellow pass-holders can use the app to request that they be seated together.
And what if the Twins find themselves in a pennant race in September, and there are no unsold seats to distribute?
“I’d put that in the category of a really good problem to have,” St. Peter said.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli introduced a new baserunning drill Monday, designed to help his players think, before the ball is hit, about how many bases they can advance. Balls were put in play and players ran at full speed, practicing picking up signs and taking the extra base.
“It’s a pretty good workout,” Baldelli said, “and I consider it even more of a mental exercise than a physical one.”
It even ended with walkoff practice, complete with Eddie Rosario trotting around the bases and his teammates mobbing him at home plate.
“We’re visualizing what we want to happen during the regular season,” Baldelli said. “I want them to practice their celebrations.”
Tyler Austin will try to extend his streak of six hits in six at-bats when he serves as the cleanup hitter Tuesday in Bradenton against the Pirates.