When your minor league baseball team grows up and makes new friends

2006 photo by Michael Hicks. Used via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

You know how it goes. You’re friends with someone growing up, you share the same passions, you think you’ll be friends forever, and then your friend meets someone new and pretty soon it’s like you don’t know him/her anymore. They’re living the good life with their new friends and they don’t even come around the old neighborhood much anymore.

Maybe that’s the situation with your old friends, the Saint Paul Saints.

The Saints, the little baseball team that could, was — and presumably still is — a lovable antidote to the glitzy and greedy baseball ownership across the river.

The Saints made it big in this town by remembering what it was like to be little. There was no pretense. It was baseball and a sideshow, but mostly the sideshow. Cheap entertainment and a heaping helping of old-style baseball.

Maybe the team still will be the old friend you grew up with when the Saints move into their new neighborhood in Saint Paul’s Lowertown next season. Maybe.

But today’s Star Tribune article that long-time season ticket holders are being squeezed out in the new park is worrisome, nonetheless.

“Where the box seats are in most professional baseball stadiums, the bleacher bums have taken over,” the Chicago Tribune trumpeted back in 1997 when it discovered a successful baseball team doing it the old fashioned way.

The home-plate seats will cost twice as much when the new park opens. Upper-level seats behind home plate will cost 39 percent more, and tickets in the remaining infield section will cost 24 percent more. Season tickets for outfield seating will see a 9 percent hike, the Star Tribune says.

It’ll cost $3,500 for season tickets in the best seats in the house (includes food). For a little over $1200, seats in the “club seating” section will come with “comfortably wide and padded seats and a wait staff to boot.”

A wait staff? Padded seats? $3,500? It’s hard to imagine the new money crowd gyrating a “ground out the run” dance to the theme song from Shaft in the new ballpark.

Two-thirds of the season ticket holders at the old stadium have signed up for seats in the new ones. So the people grousing about the price are in the minority.

The pressure will certainly be on the Saints to deliver something big for the money. At the end of the day, it’s still mediocre baseball. The name of the game has always been remembering the baseball experience the way it used to be.

The new park should be a fun place to watch a game in comfort. The Saints say they’ll double down on the entertainment to maintain the we’re-not-Major-League-Baseball vibe. For some of us, the convenience of downtown Saint Paul might result in us attending more games. Midway stadium was inconvenient, uncomfortable, and past its prime.

It was perfect.

  • John

    This is exactly what I was worried about when they announced the new stadium. I’ve only been to a couple Saints games (which is a couple more games than I’ve been to at Target Field), but I loved that I could go “on the cheap,” take the kids (4&8 last season) and not have to worry about them being too bored by baseball. There was always something besides the game to watch. If it got too long for them, we could leave without guilt about the cost of the game.

    Don’t go corporate on me Saints. Your game day experience is phenomenal, but your team’s not good enough at the actual game. You excel at cheap side-show entertainment, which is what we loved about the games we went to (oh – and affordable snacks).

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Why do we even have unaffiliated professional minor league baseball in this town anyways? Let’s get an arena league football team while we’re at it.

    • John

      I don’t understand your question. . .

      We have an unaffiliated professional minor league baseball team in this town because they are apparently able to make enough money to maintain a viable business. That’d be my guess anyways.