The Twins’ second regular season game — a win, as five of their first six have been, bitches — drew an announced crowd of 15,171 humans, the lowest reported attendance for a regular season MLB game in Target Field’s existence.
Twins bean counters saw this coming. Within a month of opening day, the team announced it would offer a digital-only pass (so these cheapskates can’t resell their tickets!) to all 30 home games in April and May for just $99.
The sales pitch tugged at a weak spot: my inner 20-something, who fancies himself a man about town, taking in a scene with a discriminating eye, passionate enough to invest in a baseball team on the come.
[In reality, my 37-year-old self fancies nothing more than slumbering past 7 a.m. after successfully coaxing his 3-year-old daughter to sleep by bedtime. The only “scene” he’s taking in these days is Library Story Time and the stroller circuit at his local park.]
Would I have sprung for the 30 tickets as a younger man? Probably.
At the peak of Ron Gardenhire’s Metrodome run — the Lew Ford-Carlos Silva-Pat Neshek years, until the Twins moved into Target Field — I paid $199-250 per year for General Admission tickets to all 81 games. In a good year, I used maybe half of the tickets, but the convenience and season-ticket-holder perks (free media notes, popcorn and a pass that got you past the usher and into the lower bowl) made it worthwhile.
One big difference between then (2004-07) and now? The beer prices.
A guy could get a stadium cup of Summit EPA for less than $7 in the Metrodome. It was the same price as a Bud Light with twice the flavor — and punch. And the cup was huge. It must have held two bottles’ worth of beer, if not more.
It’s $10.50 for a large draft beer now, up from $9.50 last year. And let’s just say the Target Field cup would fit comfortably inside Hubert Humphrey’s model.
The scene went from dive bar to rooftop patio, and I’m the old guy grumping about how things were MORE PURE in his day. There were no bars, no skyline views, no exclusive experiences. Just baseball on carpet, under a Polytetrafluoroethylene sky.
So yeah, it’s a different crowd now. People want Instagram moments, Snapchat-worthy experiences and food that transcends peanuts, crackerjacks and Dollar Dog Night.
Cool. I love good food too. And I was inspired by the reporting in Star Tribune’s Taste section — the TASTE SECTION! — last week to compile a list of my own top-5 favorite Target Field treats. Here they are:
5. A bag of chips, previously opened or unopened. Buy it for $2 at the grocery store, and enjoy the crunch all game!
4. Apples, carrots, oranges or celery, stashed in my backpack. Healthy, yes. But there’s something less satisfying about crushing the orange peels under your seat than the peanut shells.
3. The bratwurst I grilled last night, microwaved, nestled in a bun with accoutrements, wrapped in tin foil and stored in the lower pocket of my cargo shorts. I’m convinced of this: The longer you wait to dig it out, the more alcohol it soaks up.
2. Bulk, salted-in-shell peanuts from my local grocer, purchased at $1.49 per pound. If Target Field had a thriving street vendor scene — with loudmouthed guys hawking nuts and waters and airplane-sized botttles of Seagram’s whiskey on your way into the ballgame — I might be inclined not to bring my own.
1. Grilled chicken, cold. (Or a pork chop, if applicable). I’ve yet to see a charcoal grill in Target Field. Bust out a drumstick, thigh or pork chop you grilled the night before (with or without the aforementioned carrots) and you’ve got yourself a savory, healthy meal — and saved a cool $12 you can spend on your next Summit. Go Twins!