Twins President Dave St. Peter said he has never experienced anything like the current shutdown of Major League Baseball in his long time with the club.
But he said one thing is certain: The team will do anything it can to play games this season.
“From a Twins perspective we are prepared to be nimble. We’re going to follow the direction of Major League Baseball. If the Major League Baseball schedule calls for playing home games at Target Field with or without fans, we’re going to be ready for either scenario,” St. Peter said. “That is our job. I can assure you we are doing a lot of planning for both of those scenarios, as well as other options that are being considered.
“Right now there are just a lot of ideas. I wouldn’t describe it as that there are concrete plans. The health and the safety of our players and our staff is our No. 1 priority, and clearly that is where our focus is today.”
The last time baseball didn’t play a complete schedule was during the strike-shortened seasons of 1994 and 1995. St. Peter had been with the club for five years at that point after starting as an intern in 1990.
“That was painful in its own right, but nowhere near as severe as what we’re dealing with today, just understanding the human toll this is taking,” he said. “Baseball is important, but it’s nowhere near the most important thing that our globe and our world and our country is dealing with.”
Staying in touch
St. Peter gave an update on how the organization is operating.
“Life inside the Twins is certainly drastically different than what we anticipated experiencing just a couple months ago,” he said. “Obviously our players are dispersed to their homes — I think generally going through what I would consider to be more of a offseason routine, trying to stay in shape but staying connected to the team on a regular basis through our coaching staff, our medical staff, our trainers.
“Our front office is all working now remotely. Our scouts are off the road. There really aren’t any games to watch, so you know we’re working very diligently to stay connected and to stay ready. We’re also going through a fair amount of contingency planning to ensure that we’re ready to go if, and when, that signal comes from Major League Baseball that we have a season to start.”
Target Field in top shape
St. Peter said Target Field is more than ready for games.
“Target Field is in great shape. We have worked diligently over the course of the last few months to ready the ballpark for the 2020 season,” St. Peter said. “The playing field is probably in the best shape that it has been in in seven or eight years. We completed a number of offseason projects enhancing our bullpens, making some revisions to the private suite level, some additional concession concepts, but the ballpark is ready to go. If given the opportunity to play, Target Field will be spectacular.”
When it comes to the big question of whether baseball will take place this season, St. Peter said everything is wait-and-see.
“I am hopeful that baseball will be played this season,” he said. “The science is going to guide all sports, not just baseball. I think that sports and baseball are uniquely positioned to play a huge role in the healing of our country. I think that opportunity excites me. But I don’t know that we’re there yet. I’m not a doctor. I think that patience is going to be absolutely key. Because returning, where it’s a good thing, returning too early could be a devastating thing. I think everybody involved wants to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”
Ticket sales, TV finances
It has to be one of the biggest disappointments for the club that after having so much success last season, and entering spring training as a World Series contender, everything had to be put on pause.
But St. Peter said that so far ticket holders have been very understanding.
“Our fans have been incredibly patient with the current crisis. I think Twins fans in general are holding out a lot of hope that we’re going to play. They’re excited about Rocco Baldelli and the 2020 Twins,” he said. “I think we’re waiting, again, for direction to see what our season can look like, and our fans are being patient awaiting that.”
But even if the team has to have games without fans and lose that ticket revenue, he said the goal is to play.
“Certainly playing some games is going to be better than playing no games, from a television perspective,” St. Peter said. “But make no mistake, there is still going to be an impact on local and national revenues in all of these scenarios and that is no different with local television. But we’re hopeful that playing as many games as possible, not only to allow our fans to watch those games and enjoy every minute of those games, but also it does preserve a key revenue, at least a portion of a key revenue source for the Minnesota Twins.”
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