Target Field a Home Run for Twins, Area Businesses

In 2010, the team broke its regular-season attendance record, and both the City of Minneapolis and various downtown businesses report that the new ballpark has increased nearby economic activity.

The Minnesota Twins moved into their new home at Target Field in April-a move that helped the team to break its attendance record and one that seems to have increased economic activity in the surrounding area.

When the regular season wrapped up in October, attendance stood at 3,223,640, equating to an average of 39,798 per game and significantly higher than the previous record of 3,030,672 set at the Metrodome in 1988.The record places the Twins sixth in the nation among all Major League Baseball teams when it comes to attendance.

Twins spokesman Kevin Smith told Twin Cities Business in late December that while he's “not in the prediction business,” he expects 2011 attendance to be on par with 2010. Right now, 92 to 93 percent of those who held season tickets in 2010 have renewed for 2011-and Smith said he “firmly believes that demand will be there on a single-game platform” as well.

The 2010 record attendance came as no surprise to the team or its stalwart fans. The team said in June that it had sold more than 3 million advance tickets for the season and predicted in September that more than 3.2 million fans would walk through the Target Field turnstiles by the end of the regular season.

“This is a proud moment in the history of the Twins franchise,” Dave St. Peter, Twins president, said when the attendance record was announced in October. “We are tremendously thankful to the fans throughout Twins territory, not only in terms of our new attendance record, but in making Target Field the best stadium experience in all of professional sports. There is no question that our fans have created a tremendous home field advantage at Target Field.”

In 2006, the Minnesota Legislature approved a controversial measure that allowed Hennepin County to impose a 0.15 percent sales tax increase without voter approval-an increase that will provide $350 million over 30 years to cover the bulk of the stadium's cost. The Twins contributed $195 million for debt servicing.

It's too early to say whether the new stadium will generate positive returns on the public's investment in the long term, but the city has seen increases in entertainment tax, a downtown liquor tax, and a downtown restaurant tax, and many area businesses have reported increases sales and activity.

Mike Christenson, Minneapolis' director of community planning and economic development, anticipates “waves of development” around the new ballpark over time, including more retail development in the form of food carts, grocery stores, and additional, within-walking-distance retail destinations. He hopes to see residential development surrounding the ballpark and in the North Loop neighborhood as well, but he cautions that that won't come until the economy has fully recovered from the recession.