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Article: Dave St. Peter on Expectations, Attendance and Concessions

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#1 John Miller

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 08:00 AM

It has been nine years since the Minnesota Twins have won the American League Central division, only making one playoff appearance in that time. The team has changed from top to bottom over the last few years. Familiar faces like Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer are long gone. Mauer was always a draw for people to go to games. What do the Twins do now to put fans' butts in the seats of Target Field..? Make the fan experience the best that it can be.When Target Field opened in 2010 fans were excited, people were clamoring for season tickets and the team was a playoff contender. That year attendance reached 3,223,640 people. For nine straight years, attendance has gone down in all but one. The attendance for the 2018 season was 1,959,197. Almost a 1.3-million-person drop.

“We’ve missed the mark on expectations. That’s a tough place to be when expectations are high and you under-deliver and if you do that routinely over time, it takes its toll,” said Twins President and Chief Executive Officer Dave St. Peter.

The Twins have relied heavily on the attractions and restaurants in the new ballpark to keep drawing in fans, but the organization knows that fans want to see a better product on the field.

“I could make a pretty good case that as poorly as we have played over the first decade in the ballpark we have had more fans in the ballpark most nights than we probably deserve and that speaks to the Target Field experience,” said St. Peter. “You can have a great game-day experience, but you also need to have a competitive baseball team.”

One way the organization is trying to get fans back in the seats is the implementation of two concession stands located in sections 133 and 237 that are money friendly. There, you can now get a hot dog for $4 and a 12 oz. beer for $5.

“So far, it’s been pretty good, well-received, lines haven’t been too bad. We need to do a better job of promoting it,” said St. Peter. “You should not have to spend $6 on a hot dog. To me, that’s crazy.”

After this year it’s still undecided if they will expand this plan to other concessions stands or cancel it altogether. The Twins know that there are fans out there who want the premium experience right behind home plate and around the dugout, but they are aware that they need to make the game more accessible to all fans to draw their goal of 2.5-3 million fans per year.

St. Peter knows that concessions are expensive. The price of beer has risen to $10.50. Double the price of a standard six-pack of beer. When asked about the increased price of beer St. Peter rebutted, “Bud Light isn’t regular beer?” Bud Light is the beer sold at the two cheaper concession stands. “I will tell you I don’t believe the concessions model inside of sports is sustainable.” However, St. Peter says he knows that most fans will pay up for an expensive beer. “Thank God this year I have a $5 beer to sell you.” If fans want a cheaper beer it sounds like they’ll have to be satisfied with Bud Light.

Another way the Twins are trying to draw in fans is with the Twins Pass. The pass is made up of three different packages. For $49 per month fans can go to every game and be in standing room only. For $99 they get an upper level seat and for $149 they get a lower level seat. Every game a fan sits in a different seat.

“I think there’s a new generation of fans that aren’t looking for a fixed seat," said St. Peter. “Sales of that have been, I would say have been just okay. This month will be telling.” The Twins wrap up their April schedule against the Houston Astros, the 2017 World Series Champions. That could bring in quite a few fans.

The Twins feel this (Twins Pass) will draw in the 25-year-old to 35-year-old demographic. They’re trying their best to engage that age range according to St. Peter. “It’s critical to get that group engaged any way we can get them engaged. Whether it be via social channels, whether it be inside of the ballpark, whether it be attending a community event or some experiential marketing event. Their level of engagement is critical.” Studies have shown that people in that range spend the most money.

Even with all the different things the Twins are trying to do to lure fans into the stadium, attendance is not off to a good start. On April 15, the Twins had only 11,727 fans in attendance, the lowest in Target Field history. That’s 3,000 less than the previous record set the day prior. With all the changes to the team, they’ll will have to get back to the winning ways of the mid-2000’s to get fans in the seats.

“We still have more work to do. We have to regain a level of credibility in this marketplace around our baseball operation,” said St. Peter.

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#2 ashbury

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 08:56 AM

“You should not have to spend $6 on a hot dog. To me, that’s crazy.”

 

Who is holding the gun to their head, forcing them to place that price on their menu?

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#3 TheLeviathan

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 08:59 AM

 

“You should not have to spend $6 on a hot dog. To me, that’s crazy.”

 

Who is holding the gun to their head, forcing them to place that price on their menu?

 

Dave St. Peter is a master at acting like it's a mystery how things happen that are directly under his control.

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#4 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 09:01 AM

 

“You should not have to spend $6 on a hot dog. To me, that’s crazy.”

 

Who is holding the gun to their head, forcing them to place that price on their menu?

 

I was thinking the same thing... bet they'd sell a lot more if those were the prices in general. Guess the question is how many more.

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#5 ashbury

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 09:16 AM

Dave St. Peter is a master at acting like it's a mystery how things happen that are directly under his control.

I give benefit of the doubt that DSP is good at the nuts-and-bolts of running a franchise, which covers a lot of operational aspects that would be painful if done badly.

But when he speaks in public, he needs an experienced PR person at his side to tug on his sleeve in anticipation of when he's about to say something tone-deaf. Because he does that, just about every single time I've seen him quoted at any length.

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#6 birdwatcher

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 09:16 AM

 

Dave St. Peter is a master at acting like it's a mystery how things happen that are directly under his control.

 

 

This made me smile. But hey, at least he isn't talking baseball! Best he sticks to the price of a hot dog.

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#7 Linus

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 09:23 AM

I don’t know this but perhaps the concessions are contracted out and that company sets the prices?

#8 ashbury

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 09:34 AM

I don’t know this but perhaps the concessions are contracted out and that company sets the prices?

And who would have signed that supposed contract? :)

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#9 wsnydes

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 10:59 AM

I don't know about most people, but as a season ticket holder, I can tell you that I went from eating/drinking at nearly every game while at the Dome to where I don't buy anything at TF now unless I don't have much of a choice. I flat out refuse to pay the insane prices inside the ballpark. I also think that's a shame because they do have a lot to offer for food and drink, just not at the prices they charge.
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#10 Linus

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 12:08 PM

And who would have signed that supposed contract? :)


DSP of course but the concessionaire but control the prices. It is a little strange how he slammed his own related product

#11 Doomtints

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 12:23 PM

Twins tickets are dirt cheap. They make this up by charging a lot for concessions.

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#12 yarnivek1972

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 03:42 PM

Maybe if the Twins didn’t have to pay every hot dog vendor $15 per hour, they would be cheaper.

#13 LaBombo

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 03:48 PM

 

“You should not have to spend $6 on a hot dog. To me, that’s crazy.”

 

Who is holding the gun to their head, forcing them to place that price on their menu?

 

I'd tell you but they also have a gun pointed at my dog right now.

 

Just at my $6 hot dog, not... you know, my... dog dog. But still, six bucks is six bucks.

Edited by LaBombo, 21 April 2019 - 03:58 PM.

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#14 Mike Sixel

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 04:30 PM

The Phillies went all in this year, attendance is up over ten thousand per game. Maybe the Twins should try that.
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#15 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 05:11 PM

Maybe if the Twins didn’t have to pay every hot dog vendor $15 per hour, they would be cheaper.


Why would they have to pay them $15 per hour?

#16 wsnydes

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 05:16 PM

Why would they have to pay them $15 per hour?

Minimum wage in Mpls is $15/hr for some, but I'm not sure how vendors fit in to the classifications. It's being patient phased in.

Edited by wsnydes, 21 April 2019 - 05:18 PM.

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#17 ashbury

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 05:52 PM

I'd tell you but they also have a gun pointed at my dog right now.

 

Just at my $6 hot dog, not... you know, my... dog dog. But still, six bucks is six bucks.

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#18 TheLeviathan

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 06:06 PM

Pretty sure concession prices were ridiculous before any minimum wage laws. 

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#19 notoriousgod71

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 06:28 PM

St. Peter is absolutely clueless on what fans want.

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#20 wsnydes

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 06:38 PM

Pretty sure concession prices were ridiculous before any minimum wage laws.

Agreed, but they seem to be approaching ludicrous speed proportions these days.

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