09-14-2012, 12:13 PM #1
St. Peter's comments re: possible St. Paul affiliate for Twins
Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press posted a column (click here) with a number of quotes from Twins president Dave St. Peter concerning the possibility of the Twins locating a minor league affiliate in St. Paul, now that the city has funding assured to move forward with building their new stadium. The stadium is being built to Class A standards (which basically deal with things like clubhouse and training facilities and a certain minimum seating capacity).
St. Peter's quotes and summary:
1) "I would certainly never say never to that... But I certainly don't anticipate that being reality over the short term... Certainly in the next two to four years, I think it would be very unlikely that that would happen." This makes sense because the stadium won't be ready until 2015 and the Twins will be entering in to a new player development contract (PDC) with another Midwest League team next week which will have either a 2 year term or a 4 year term. Assuming the Twins don't end up renewing with Beloit, it's most likely going to be a 4 year term. It would be unusual for a first agreement with a new city to be just two years... those affiliates are not going to want to have to go through the process of finding a new partner again just 2 years down the road.
2) "The reality is that a lot of things would need to happen for that even to be considered." He goes on to state that the biggest factor would be the territorial rights that the Twins own. No affiliated minor league team can set up shop within a certain distance of the Twins' territorial rights without the Twins' permission and St. Paul is definitely inside the restricted territory. I'm really not so sure that's the biggest factor, however. The Twins could give approval conditioned on the minor league team remaining affiliated with the Twins. This is the deal Dayton has with the Reds, from what I've read. That's why, even though Dayton's PDC with the Reds has not yet renewed this year, there's no chance Dayton could sign with another MLB team even if they wanted to.
Seems to me that the bigger issue for a possible St. Paul affiliate is that neither the Twins, nor the Saints, nor anyone else can just say, "we're going to do this," and make it happen. Existing affiliated minor league teams are assured affiliations under MLB rules and nobody can just tell the Midwest League they're going to put a team in St. Paul. There are really just a couple scenarios that could result in a Twins MWL affiliate in St. Paul (forget about a AA or AAA team... There isn't a AA league anywhere near the midwest and even the new stadium doesn't meet AAA minimum standards, which require a 10,000 capacity stadium, at a minimum):
For a NEW team to be awarded to St. Paul, the MWL would have to petition baseball to be allowed to expand and it would have to be by two teams to remain an even number. Since every MLB team already has a full season Class A team, expansion won't happen.
Someone could buy an existing MWL franchise or at least convince owners of a current MWL franchise to relocate to St. Paul. They would have to give 18 months notice of intent to relocate. But the real problem is finding a franchise willing to relocate. The MWL has a lot of newer stadiums and teams are generally doing OK financially where they are. There are a few older ballparks that could certainly stand to be replaced, but those teams are pretty much all community owned, I believe. The teams in Beloit, Clinton and Burlington, for example, aren't going to relocate or sell out because, even if attendance isn't huge, they're at least breaking even financially. Peoria, if they did decide to sell or relocated, would almost certainly move to another central Illinois community. (There are a number of Frontier League team owners that would probably welcome the opportunity to become affiliated minor league team owners.) There really don't seem to be franchise options available for a possible move north.
Finally, even if these obstacles were overcome, the MWL itself would have to approve a St. Paul location. Could that happen, yes. But it's far from certain. The league rejected an ownership group that wanted to place a team in Marion IL (southern tip of IL) back in 2005-06 somewhere because Marion was far enough outside the league's current footprint that the increased travel costs for other MWL teams would be significant (and those costs are paid by the minor league team, not the MLB affiliate). The league has subsequently admitted Bowling Green KY, but it wasn't a slam dunk. BG was essentially a "transfer" from the South Atlantic League so an affiliated minor league team already was located there. Even then, it was resisted by some members of the league. Scheduling also becomes a problem because players must be given off-days any time they have to travel by bus more than 500 miles and about half the MWL locations would exceed that distance from St. Paul.
In the end, if I were the Twins, I'd certainly like the idea of putting an affiliate in St. Paul so I'd be saying the same things St. Peter is. But when he says, "...a lot of things would need to happen for that even to be considered," he ain't lyin' because it's not a decision the Twins can unilaterally make and almost all of the parties that would have to give approval have strong incentives not to.
Last edited by Jim Crikket; 09-14-2012 at 12:19 PM.
09-14-2012, 12:40 PM #2
Good summary, JC.
Please post it in the next regular thread that starts going crazy over locating a Twins affiliate (at any level) in Minnesota/Fargo/Sioux Falls, etc. etc. etc.
09-14-2012, 12:45 PM #3
Yikes. I didn't realize it had gotten that long. I should have posted it as a blog entry. Maybe I still will.
Thanks, JB. Yeah, the Twins could put an affiliate in the Dakotas, but they'd have a little trouble finding other teams to play.
09-14-2012, 01:02 PM #4
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You know JCrik when you start talking in reasoned and well thought out details it makes me understand why I come to this site so often. Having you and others speak to the reality of a event instead of the passioned and out your A$$ commentary found in other places, sometimes here too actually but the % here is much less, elevates the discourse.
I have thought that in the end it will be about the mighty $$ for the MWL owners. What would be the reason I would agree to this change if it was going to cost me more money without increasing my revenue. I do not see how a Class A affliate for the Twins in St. Paul adds to my bottom line in Bowling Green or any of the Michigan teams.
Just go to CR (or Beloit if you want) and sign a 4 year agreement. That is the best you are going to do for all involved. And if so See you next year at a few games when Buxton, Kepler will be roaming that field and Berrios will by chucking BB's. One question I have is how ingrained is the Kernals name. Always been one of my least fav MWL nicknames. I have no ideas for a new one, but just one of those things that bug me.
09-14-2012, 01:04 PM #5
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Interesting stuff. I have to imagine another concern for the Twins would be that in the late months of a season like this, where the team drops out of contention, they'd be cannibalizing their own attendance because some fans would be more interested in going to check out the prospects in St. Paul than the crummy big-league product at Target Field.
09-14-2012, 01:18 PM #6
Thanks, MWLFan. I guess I should include a disclaimer, in the interest of full disclosure, reminding anyone who doesn't already know that I'm in Cedar Rapids and have an obvious self-interest in seeing the Twins affiliate here next week and stick around for as long as I'm here. I admit that gives me a certain bias on this issue because I have an interest in identifying reasons why St. Paul WOULDN'T work, as opposed to reasons why it might.
You're right about the lack of financial incentives for existing owners to approve any move that increases costs without increasing revenues. Whether there's a team in Beloit or St. Paul won't make a nickel's difference in terms of CR's (or any other team's) revenues. The sole benefit is that the Kernels players would have a nicer facility to play in when they travel to St. Paul than they do in Beloit. But even that is of no tangible benefit to the minor league owners, since the players are 100% the responsibility of the MLB affiliate.
I didn't like the Kernels name either, when it was decided upon 20 years ago through some kind of community contest, as I recall. I still don't much care for it and I know a lot of others here aren't wild about it either. I like their most recent logo even less. I at least thought their original logo was pretty classy (or as classy as you can make a baseball in a corn shuck). A few years ago, they went with a cartoon-ish character, just as almost all minor league teams have lately. It's a trend I don't much care for, but I'm sure there's some marketing theory behind it appealing to kids, etc.
That said, I doubt there will be a change any time soon. I haven't asked my friends with the club but I'll do that when I talk to them next (I'm sure we'll be speaking next week, one way or another). On the positive side, if they DID decide to come up with a new name, it would have the potential to significantly increase sales of shirts/caps/etc. since fans would need to get all new "stuff."
09-14-2012, 01:24 PM #7
Veeck: "Hi... Dave? Hey, we've got a problem over here. We've got too many people who want to see these championship games and we can't fit them all in our ballpark. I noticed you don't seem to be having that issue with the Royals in town this week and I was wondering if you'd consider a swap, letting us use Target Field this week while your guys and the Royals play over here in St. Paul."
St. Peter: "Crap."
09-14-2012, 02:05 PM #8
There is NO chance that a second Minor League Team will ever play at the new Ball Park.
The Ball Park is being built for the Saints. For years, the Saints have lobbied and fought for it. They are throwing in 10 million dollars of their own money. They would not spend money on a project which could damage their business or put them out of business. The Saints would probably sue the Port Authority and the City of SaintPaul if an attempt was made to bring in a second Team. Is there enough Fans to support these two Teams? Since the opening of TargetField, Saints attendance has taken a large drop to averaging 4915 per game, still well ahead of most Class A Ball Clubs. Regarding the Facility’s, most American Association Stadiums meet MLB Class A standards.
Chris Coleman has a tendency to shoot off his mouth from time to time. I wouldn’t put much stock in his comment.
St. Peter is saying all the right things.
Last edited by Highabove; 09-14-2012 at 08:27 PM.
09-14-2012, 04:01 PM #9
09-14-2012, 05:11 PM #10
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I do think the Twins should be trying to locate a minor league affiliate closer to Minneapolis. I'd heard talk about Rapid City (SD) as a AAA affiliate, other rumors of Sioux City or Fargo, not much on Sioux Falls. I think St. Paul would work great for low A, ownership same as Ft. Myers, new stadium, etc. but with the rules of the MWL it just makes it look more like a 6-8 year project just to get it to happen.
But we can still talk about it.
09-14-2012, 10:46 PM #11
Those same "MWL rules" apply to all affiliated minor leagues. They can't put a AAA affiliate in the Dakotas unless there's a current AAA franchise available for sale or relocation either. Not many communities with those franchises are going to give them up.
09-14-2012, 11:00 PM #12
you would think the Twins would want a team in Iowa instead of St Paul just because it expands the Twins 'brand'. The Twins have a strong following in Southern Minnesota (Austin, Albert Lea, Rochester) and have a few radio affiliate in N. Iowa (Mason City comes to mind). Expanding 'Twins Territory' out a little further to Ceder Rapids makes sense to me.
09-15-2012, 10:55 PM #13
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Rapid City would be a small market even by Midwest League standards. Rapid's only real hope for minor league ball would have to come from the rookie-level Pioneer League.
09-17-2012, 07:32 AM #14
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09-17-2012, 08:56 AM #15
I dunno... after all, the Rays have six affiliated Class A minor league teams that, I believe, would fall within their territory (Tampa-NY, Clearwater-PH, Dunedin-TOR, Bradenton-PIT, Lakeland-DET, and their own Charlotte-TB). And, of course, that doesn't even count the short season Gulf Coast League teams in the area. Despite all of those other professional baseball options that the people of greater Tampa/St. Pete and the surrounding area, the Rays don't seem to have any problems with attendance at their games, do they? Oh... wait...
Seriously, though, even though the Florida State League as a whole draws lousy attendance, those six teams pulled about 600,000 fans this year. While the Rays have more serious problems than just a little competition from minor league teams in the area, their existance as a cheaper option for casual fans to watch professional baseball most likely isn't helping the Rays, either.