The Twins already have passed the 3.15 million mark in total ticket sales for the inaugural season at Target Field, according to team President Dave St. Peter.

To date, Twins attendance is up 44 percent over last season, easily the largest increase in the major leagues. That's not a surprise as they are the only team in a new stadium this year.

The Colorado Rockies are the only other major league team with a double-digit increase from last year. Attendance around the major leagues as a whole is down 3 percent vs. a year ago.

But the interest in the team extends beyond the turnstile count. Through the first 12 weeks of the season, the Twins have an average cable rating of 7.9 on Fox Sports North, the second in the majors only to the St. Louis Cardinals (9.7). Twins cable ratings are 28 percent higher vs. a year ago.

The Twins are sixth in the major leagues in average attendance at 39,519 per game, behind the Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals and Angels. But in terms of percentage of seats sold at the stadium the Twins are third in baseball at exactly 100 percent of seats sold per game. They are behind the Phillies (103.5 percent) and Red Sox (100.9) who, like the Twins, have been able to sell above capacity through standing-room only tickets.

The Twins intend to commence the 2011 sales renewal effort in August. Certainly, they should have little difficulty selling the tickets given the response to the first year at the ballpark. It's amazing that the Twins are having sellouts virtually every single game at Target Field.

Dome shows loss

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission's financial report for 2009 shows operating expenses of $57.4 million and operating revenues of $50.9 million for a loss of $6.5 million for the year, according to Bill Lester, MSFC executive director.

Lester also reported that the new Sportexe turf will be installed in the next three weeks, in time for the Vikings' first preseason home game against Seattle on Aug. 28.

The new turf will not contain inserts for bases that were used when the Twins played at the Metrodome.

Meanwhile, work is proceeding on the Vikings Gridiron Club that will be in the space formerly housing the Twins' executive offices. The Gridiron Club will include an exterior deck with a view of the Minneapolis skyline. And the new Vikings ticket office that replaced the old Twins ticket office is four times as large as the old Vikings ticket office and already is in use.

Vikings colors will dominate the color palate of the stadium both inside and out. Most noticeable will be the support columns circling the stadium, which are being painted purple.

No doubt the MSFC is doing everything to make the Vikings happy since they are paying for most of these improvements.

Secondary violation

The fact that Memphis men's basketball coach Josh Pastner watched the Gophers' Trevor Mbakwe play at a noncertified event is a low secondary NCAA violation, according to someone familiar with NCAA rules. The violation doesn't prevent Pastner from continuing to recruit Mbakwe as a transfer.

Pastner was in the Twin Cities to scout the Best Buy Summer Classic, an AAU event, in Bloomington last week. Then he broke an NCAA rule when he visited the Salvation Army Gym in St. Paul where Mbakwe was playing in the Howard Pulley League.

Mbakwe did visit the Memphis campus and is considering transferring there.

Gophers coach Tubby Smith wasn't happy about Pastner breaking the rules. But Smith is still confident that Mbakwe will play for the Gophers if Mbakwe is found not guilty of felony battery when his much-postponed trial is held in Miami Aug. 23.

The Gophers start practice Aug. 22 for three exhibition games to be played in British Columbia, so if Mbakwe is found not guilty he could wind up playing with the Gophers on Sept. 2 in the first game of that trip.

Also if the trial is postponed again, the Gophers still might allow Mbakwe to play this season. Mbakwe was allowed to practice last year but he was not eligible to participate in games with the Gophers.


Minneapolis Community and Technical College's loss is the gain of Dakota County Technical College, where Jay Pivec will coach the school's first basketball team beginning with the 2011-12 season. Dakota County will be an independent team in conference play and a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association under Pivec, who posted a 20-year record of 425-115 at MCTC and was recently inducted into the NJCCA Hall of Fame. Pivec's team will participate at the Division II level and will offer scholarships. I salute Dakota County Technical School President Dr. Ron Thomas. At the same time, I believe MCTC President Phil Davis made a bad mistake dropping a basketball program that drew a lot of attention to the school.

Col. Frederick G. Hartwig, a former Minnehaha Academy and Gophers football player, has assumed command of the 150th Fighter Wing for the United States Air Force.

Gophers men's swimming coach Dennis Dale has signed four recruits for the 2010-11 season, including Danny Brebrick of Wausau, Wis., who was the Wisconsin state Division 1 champion in the 100-yard freestyle as a junior, and Stephen Meyer, a graduate of Shorewood (Wis.) High School who was a two-time finalist at the 2010 Wisconsin state meet. The Gophers also gained two transfers, Nathan Jobe of Fergus Falls, Minn., and Mike Vernoia of Hillsborough, N.J. Jobe spent the past two seasons at North Dakota, and Vernoia swam for the College of New Jersey and was this year's NCAA Division III runner-up in the 200 and 500 freestyle.

Eden Prairie native Ryan Wittman played in seven games -- four with the Celtics and three with the Knicks -- in NBA Summer League play, with the Cornell product averaging 3.4 points and 1.3 rebounds in 12.7 minutes overall. Albert Lea, Minn., native Ben Woodside of North Dakota State played in four games for Golden State, averaging 5.3 points in 15.3 minutes per game, while shooting 50 percent from the three-point line. Woodside spent last year playing in France for Gravelines Dunkirk and averaged 14.2 points and 4.5 assists in 35 games.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. •