Has Target Field failed at its primary mission?

Thanks to three forgettable games in Baltimore, today’s home opener for the Minnesota Twins is being met with all the excitement of prune juice.

What happened to the Twins?

Let’s go back to the day a land acquisition deal was reached to build a new baseball stadium for the local nine.

“It’s a fair document, and it will allow the Twins to be competitive in Minnesota, and to build a world-class outdoor ballpark.”

That was Twins president Dave St. Peter.

In its pitch for a new stadium, the Twins made this claim:

The incremental revenues generated by a new ballpark should help stabilize the franchise and provide the team with additional resources to be competitive.

Did it work? MPR colleague Bill Wareham has analyzed the relationship between stadiums and a team’s on-field success and found only two teams were worse at it in the second year of a stadium — and all the revenue that goes with it — than the Twins.


The good news is that one of the teams that was worse at parlaying a new stadium into success was the Detroit Tigers, who did nothing after their stadium opened in 2000, but who are now among the league’s big spenders and best teams.

This puts the Twins on track for considerable success 10 years from now.

  • BenCh

    I’m not sure if I follow…. where do the Spruce trees come into play?

  • davidz

    Primary mission? I thought ballparks were all about the revenue brought in to the local community. That’s the reason we keep being asked to fund them out of public dollars.

    Maybe you can make the claim that the extra money to the community isn’t going to happen unless the team gets a good record. But now the value becomes a second order effect, which is much harder to judge.

    Is the community benefit because the team is good, or because the team is good because the stadium is new?

    How can you tell the difference?

  • John P.

    Well, the theory goes something like this.

    1. Shiny new stadium generates more revenue.

    2. Team can afford better players, so team gets better.

    3. That draws fans and increases revenue.

    4, Everyone gets rich.

    Unfortunately, the big plan broke down at step 2. There were lots of bone-headed personnel moves. They spent lots more money and got less. That’s probably why the Twins have a new General Manager this year.

    // Has Target Field failed …

    It’s the Twins management that has failed. All they have to do is hire a team that is not depresing to watch and money will flow down like water.

  • Jeff

    Once Ricky Rubio is healthy again maybe they can engineer a trade with the Timberwolves and add some excitement.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Interesting numbers, but it’s simpler than all that.

    What has happened is that the front office shot their salary wad on a local all American boy hero who turns out to be human,

    signed a third rate closer for 8 figures,

    and let their two best players go, claiming they couldn’t afford them.

    Every single player could be escorted out onto the field every single game by a well-endowed woman dressed mostly in feathers and spike heals,

    and these guys would still finish under .500.

  • Kevin Watterson

    So to call the stadium or its ‘mission’ a failure is nonsense. Revenues for the franchise are up exponentially compared to the Metrodome. That has allowed them to raise their payroll, something I thought Twins fans were clamoring for for years. Unfortunately the team stinks. That’s not the fault of Target Field, which has allowed for payrolls of $113 million and $94 million the past two seasons. It’s the fault of a whole host of other factors, none of which are a new stadium. (Except maybe for the asinine dimensions to right center field, but I digress.)