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  • Dave St. Peter on Expectations, Attendance and Concessions


    John Miller

    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.

    Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

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    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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    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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    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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    “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
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    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
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    St. Peter is absolutely clueless on what fans want.

    Agree 100%. Attendance dropping from 3.2M to 1.9M should give any common sense owner that whatever it is you are doing.. it is wrong! From the price of admission to $10 beers, $6 hotdogs and a losing team why would anyone RUSH to Target Field? Oh the new monthly pricing is great for the local fans in the Twin cities but for those of us that live too far away to come to that many games how does that help us? It doesn't! Guess he doesn't realize that some of his fan base is outside the city limits. With the high cost of admission and concessions the average Joe's like myself won't be coming to any games to watch a team of losers. We want our moneys worth if we make the trip, so prove you have a team on the field that can win and not just compete, yes there is a difference. Then the fans will start coming back.

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

     

    In my opinion, bleeding fans dry is a huge problem for baseball.  All sports are overpriced, but relative to games played, baseball is pretty unique

     

    Pretty soon they are going to be trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip.  I hope more people, even if it's done as absurdly as St. Peter did here, realize the problem and reverse course soon.  Or in our lifetimes baseball will be the new boxing or horse racing.  

    Edited by TheLeviathan
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    If the cost of a Hot Dog is $1 to the Twins, and the price of employing the vendor is fixed.  Would $3 hot dogs end up generating more money?

     

    I have two kids, and paying $12 for two hot dogs is insane especially since one will likely drop it or only eat half.  So we generally skip it all together.

     

    If the Hot Dogs were $3, I would easily buy 2, probably even 3 and get one for myself.  

     

    So, if priced right the Twins will increase my hot dog spending from $0 to $9.

     

     

    Edited by Loosey
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    In my opinion, bleeding fans dry is a huge problem for baseball.  All sports are overpriced, but relative to games played, baseball is pretty unique

     

    Pretty soon they are going to be trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip.  I hope more people, even if it's done as absurdly as St. Peter did here, realize the problem and reverse course soon.  Or in our lifetimes baseball will be the new boxing or horse racing.  

    I agree completely. I mentioned up thread that I used to get something to eat and/or drink at every game dating back to the Dome. These days, I refuse to buy anything unless I don't have time to stop somewhere otherwise. I do agree that it's a problem.  You'd think that there has to be a breaking point somewhere. I doubt that I'm the only one that won't buy anything, but I do know that I'm in the minority.

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    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.

    It's phased in over 5 years.

    Right now it's either 11.25 or 10.25, depending on how many employees these vendors have. So, nowhere near 15/hr.

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    let's not forget, this has been a miserable spring. Nobody wants a $5, or $10 beer while watching baseball in 31 degree weather.

    I've seen people turn down a beer for many reasons in my life. Not once has the weather ever been one of those reasons.

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

     

    Well if they're not paid $15 an hour, how could they afford to eat one of the hot dogs marked up 800% that their selling?

     

    Scratch that, a $15 an hour job ain't going to afford them the money to attend a game.

     

    This was the first opening day since I was legal drinking age that I didn't have a beer. I'm not waiting in line for ten minutes for a Bud Light and I'm repulsed by the prices of decent beer. Thankfully Berrios was great and got us out of the stadium in under 3 hours so as I could pay Fulton a more reasonable price for better quality beer afterwards. As much as it might surprise St. Peter, I don't go to baseball games for the restaurants and concessions. 

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