Byron Buxton will make his home debut Wednesday in front of what continues to inch toward one of Target Field’s biggest turnouts of the season. Twins officials are expecting anywhere from 31,000 to 35,000 in ticket sales for the highly touted prospect’s local introduction.
“There’s great excitement and great anticipation,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said. “This was always going to be a very big week attendance-wise. … Factors could push it beyond [35,000].”
Arguably, the biggest factor is Buxton. The former No. 2 overall draft pick finally will be on display for Twins fans after three years of hearing about what could be the organization’s next big star. It helps that fans already have caught a glimpse of the outfielder’s special talents since he was called up Sunday, joining the team in the middle of a five-game road trip.
He scored the game-winning run, showing off his speed by going from first to home on a hit in the gap, on Sunday. He recorded his first hit with a stand-up triple on Monday and legged out an infield single Tuesday.
Though Buxton will put an extra premium on Twins tickets this week, the incoming lineup of opponents had already accounted for the expected attendance spike. The St. Louis Cardinals are also making their Target Field debut and the fan-favorite Chicago Cubs are coming to town for a weekend series.
“There’s a lot of excitement surrounding his home debut,” said Kevin Smith, Twins senior director of corporate communications and broadcasting. “I think the Buxton factor adds another level of excitement about these series. … It’s an extra attraction for an already exciting series. There is a general curiosity from our fans of what he can do at the major league level.”
The curiosity also has helped ramp up ticket sales for third-party vendors.
“How the team has been playing has helped [sales]. They have a winning record for the first time in a long time,” said Andrew Baydala, executive director of business operations for Ticket King. “And [Buxton’s] call-up definitely helped because he’s had so much hype around him for years now. The Twins faithful are finally getting to see it.”
The Twins arguably haven’t had such a highly anticipated debut since Joe Mauer in 2004, Justin Morneau in 2003, or even as far back as Kirby Puckett in 1984. St. Peter expects this excitement to fuel sales around the stadium, especially if Buxton can prove himself quickly. Buxton apparel will arrive at Target Field early Wednesday.
“I think fans are much more familiar with Byron Buxton than Kirby Puckett when he made his debut in 1984 because there was not as much of a fan engagement in the minor league system back then. It’s not a fair comparison because of the nature of the world we live in today,” St. Peter said. “There’s going to be a great interest, and I think our fans want to get behind Byron Buxton and there will be ample product [with Buxton’s name on it] in our ballpark [Wednesday] night. I expect you’re going to see a number of his jerseys and T-shirts.
“Buxton will certainly have the spotlight, but he’s just one of the storylines that will be going on [this week].”