Monday, December 27, 2010

The year of Target Field

Most of my wife's relatives live in a fairly tight radius in Minnesota-Wisconsin north of the metro area, and my typical route when going to and from there has been to get on I-35 early and ride that freeway through Minneapolis.

Target Field, Opening Day;
It can take your breath away
I changed the route north on Christmas Eve just to get another glimpse of Target Field — 169 to 394 to 94 to 35W — and for a few moments, before the turn to the right and the plunge into the Lowry Hill Tunnel, we were headed straight for that Twins logo towering above the video board.

A good moment on that snow-ridden day. Spring will come, and baseball will return.

And I will be headed again straight for that Twins logo.

The Star Tribune's annual "Sportsperson of the Year" for 2010 was Earl Santee, the architect of Target Field, and certainly his attention to detail on that ballyard will reverberate with Minnesotans for decades to come. (The visibility of that logo to people coming into Minneapolis on that freeway is no coincidence;  it was planned.)

Conventional wisdom holds that a new ballpark attracts fans on its own for a couple of years, then the novelty aspect wears off and the locale becomes an attendance/marketing nonfactor. To which I have two words: Wrigley Field.

The Cubs sold "beautiful Wrigley Field" to their audience for generations, and they have drawn no matter how crummy the team on that ivy-covered burial ground (Steve Goodman's song lyrics). Indeed, there is a line of thought that holds that the financial disconnect between winning and ticket sales has subtly encouraged mediocrity.

I don't know that I buy that argument. I do suspect that the Twins view the way the Cubs have long promoted Wrigley Field as a model for their own marketing efforts. It will be interesting to see if their 2011 TV ads are as focused on selling Target Field as their ads of the past couple of years were.

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