Single-game Twins tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, offering an early test for an organization that would like to believe 2012 will be much better than 2011 both on and off the field.

"There's no question last year was not good," said Kevin Smith, the Twins' Executive Director of Public Affairs. "But we've had nearly 12 months of upgrades." In other words, lesson learned from last March 19, when at various points 120,000 would-be ticket buyers were online the day single-game tickets went on sale. Many of them waited – some fruitlessly – for multiple hours. Plenty of them pointed their browsers toward Twitter to vent about the experience. "We haven't reached the heights of 2010 or 2011, but demand is still really good," said Smith, who added the team has already sold approximately 2.3 million tickets for 2012, including season tickets. The Twins drew a shade under 3.2 million fans last year after being just over 3.2 million in the opening season of 2010. And if the people come online, Smith thinks the system is built to handle it. Early results from smaller-batch sales are good. The Twins have already opened up single-game ticket sales to specific groups, including partial- and full-season ticket holders wanting to buy additional seats. Mike Haddad – one of those fans frustrated by the experience when he tried to buy single-game tickets a year ago – entered a contest and won the right to buy tickets to the home opener earlier this week before the general sale. He tweeted Wednesday (@leb13): "Credit where credit is due: Virtual waiting room for Twins tickets was way easier this year. Got 4 Opening Day Tickets!" We followed up with Haddad via e-mail. "The experience this year was immensely better than last," Haddad wrote. "I was only in the waiting room for 5 minutes before I was selected to make a purchase. In addition, once I was selected I was actually able to purchase my tickets. Last year, I was in the waiting room for over an hour and when it was my turn to purchase the web site crashed out and I didn't even get the opportunity to buy." That's a good start, but the main event comes Saturday. "That's the biggest test," Smith said. "It's open to the world. … I think we're ready. We've seen the demand and made the changes." Fans should still anticipate reasonable waiting times, as would be expected during any high-volume ticket buying period. Smith also offered these tips:

  • Fans wishing to avoid the online process can buy tickets at the Target Field box office or via phone at 1-800-33-TWINS
  • It's smart to study a schedule before starting the ticket-buying process and to make a prioritized list of games for which you want to buy tickets.
  • Tickets for games in April, May and September will be easier to come by than those in the summer months.
  • Tickets are already scarce for opening day and for interleague games in June. There is a limit of four tickets per game – if they are available – for games against the Cubs (June 8-10) and Brewers (June 15-17).

Unwittingly, of course, the Twins might have taken some pressure off the system by, um, decreasing demand with their on-field play in 2011. Still, wrote Haddad, "Even if they had lost 162 (games) I would still try for home opener tickets." Said Smith: "Frankly, after 99 losses, I don't know. But it's still Target Field. And it's still a great experience." One he and the Twins are hoping starts with a similar experience Saturday.