Attendance below 30,000? About time!
by, 08-31-2012 at 02:19 PM (701 Views)
It was noted elsewhere that this week attendance dropped below 30,000 at Target Field for the first time in its history. Some saw that as a harbinger of doom, leading to a vicious cycle of depressed revenues followed by lower payroll followed by a poorer product on the field followed by depressed revenues followed by...
My own take: At last! This is what Iíve been waiting for since Target Field opened. Donít get me wrong Ė it was fun to see a full ballpark for a while. But Iím glad the honeymoon is over. Why? Because I donít like crowds. Thatís not to say I donít like people. In small, carefully controlled quantities people are great. But Iíve never liked when it gets to the point where you donít have any elbow room. Thatís why Iím always of two minds about going to the State Fair. I enjoy the experience, at first, but after a couple of hours the throngs have begun to wear on me and I start thinking about a quick exit.
Thinking back on my tour of the Twins farm system the two most enjoyable game-day experiences were in New Britain and in Elizabethton. In both cases, attendance was about two-thirds of stadium capacity. The other parks felt too empty. At the 2/3-capacity level, though, there was enough crowd to provide a lively atmosphere and yet still enough free seats to be able to spread out and move around and not be crowded (and in one case to flee the merciless rays of the sun). Somewhere in the 65%-75% range felt like a good mix.
Translating that metric to Target Field, and you have a desired audience in the 25,000-30,000 range. The concourses are not quite so crowded, the concession stand and restroom lines are more reasonable, and you donít have to worry about getting seated next to someone who will ... ah... hamper the game-day experience for you.
You also have the advantage of flexibility in going to games. One of the things I hated about the first couple of years in the new stadium is the difficulty in making a same-day decision to go see a ballgame. For good parts of those seasons they were sold out in advance. I remember going down one time and having to make the choice between a standing-room ticket and going home empty after having paid for parking. Now, I can look at the weather, see how I feel, and, when the time and mood are right, head out to the park on a whim and catch a game. That was part of what I enjoyed about my minor league experience, and Iím glad those days are back for the Twins.
Is there a chance that attendance will fall to a point where the stadium becomes less lively? Of course. I remember some of those days in the Metrodome, and they were not pretty. I hope it never becomes a ghost town on game day. But I for one welcome the return of casual baseball, when I can get up that morning, with nothing planned, and say ďHey, I think Iíll catch a Twins game today.Ē