Take me out to the ballgame

Your correspondent attends a game in downtown Minneapolis, and lives to tell the tale.

The Minnesota Twins are currently leading the Central division of the American League. In the stands, their performance is not as stellar. They rank 20th of out the 30 major league teams in average attendance, at a little more than 20,000 per game.

Other division leaders (Dodgers, Yankees, Astros, Mets, and Brewers) rank 1, 4, 6, 9, and 15, respectively. Similar to the Twins, Milwaukee is another northern-tier, small market team, but the Brewers are averaging nearly 29,000 fans per game. Milwaukee also has a roof on its stadium, it should be noted.

In 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, and a season in which the Twins won their division, the team finished 15th in attendance. According to Forbes, MLB attendance is down so far in 2022, compared to 2019, across the league. But the Twins seem to be faring worse than most.

The Twins are 3-3 during their current home stand:

Interestingly, the best attended game this week was the Sunday daytime game. The weekend night games had lower attendance than either day game this week, or even the Wednesday night game.

Typically, the figures published represent the number of tickets sold, including season tickets. The stadium officially holds 38,000. Here is some video taken during the first inning of a crowd announced at 28,000.

Sunday, June 26, 1st Inning

Perhaps public safety is playing a role in attendance lagging the league. The county-owned stadium was heavily patrolled by deputies from the Sheriff’s office, including one deputy patrolling the plaza outside the main gates holding a rifle. Security guards patrolled the skyways that connect the nearby parking garages to the stadium.

If you approach the stadium from Interstate 394, you can exit directly into Parking Ramp A. Ramp A is directly connected to the stadium. Ramp A exits directly onto 394. If you are coming to the game from the western suburbs, you can attend a Twins game without stepping on, or driving on, any part of Minneapolis proper.

The crowd that did show for the game consisted mostly of families with small children. Many senior citizens were also in attendance. With the Twins leading from the first inning, the mood was upbeat, almost as if we were in the Beforetimes.

Is it the cost? At $18, this ticket was literally the cheapest one sold for today’s game:

Is it the wokeness? An “End Racism” sign is tucked into the right-field corner of the stadium:

In 2021, the outfield wall featured Black Lives Matter and George Floyd banners much more prominently, as documented by the Center’s Chair in this Thinking Minnesota magazine piece.

Here is how attendance has gone in recent seasons for the Twins:

2009 was the last season in the old Metrodome. Attendance was high for the first few years of the new Target Field. Attendance dipped in 2016 as the team lost 103 games. Winning percentages in bold denote first place finishes.

In 2020, fans were not allowed in the stands. In 2021 capacity was restricted early in the season due to the pandemic.

In any event, the fans are staying away in droves in 2022. But the absent fans missed out on today’s post-game giveaway, courtesy of the ratepayers of Xcel Energy’s electric utility:

“WomenTM Owned”

As for the game itself, the Twins’ designated hitter, Byron Buxton, went 3 for 3, plus a walk, scoring three runs.