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'Shame on us': Twins blame lower ticket sales on poor play

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The Minnesota Twins are in danger of drawing fewer fans this year than they did the final season at the Metrodome. Some are blaming the team's poor play in recent years for the lack of interest in the team, the Star Tribune says.

Attendance has steadily fallen since Target Field opened five years ago – it saw 3.2 million fans in its first season and 2.47 million fans last year. Average home attendance has dropped 23 percent over the past three seasons as the Twins averaged 97 losses, the Pioneer Press reports.

Compared to other teams, the Twins ranked in the bottom half – 17 out of 30 – for average attendance last season, according to ESPN.

“Shame on us,” Twins President David St. Peter, who had predicted that the team would level off at 2.7 million fans after Target Field’s initial seasons, told the Star Tribune. “I didn’t anticipate losing 90-some games in 2012, and I certainly didn’t anticipate losing 96 games in 2013.”

St. Peter said the three consecutive 90-loss seasons — even with a new $555 million ballpark — is “going to take a toll," the Star Tribune reports.

St. Peter is hopeful the team will draw 2.5 million fans this year, the Pioneer Press says. A boost from Minnesota hosting its first Major League Baseball All-Star Game in nearly 30 years should help, the Star Tribune reports.

So far this season the team has sold 1.6 million tickets – last year at this time 1.75 million tickets were sold, the Star Tribune says.

Season ticket sales have also fallen sharply, which is one way the club measures interest in the team, according to the Star Tribune. After selling 25,000 season tickets in the first two seasons at Target Field, the total dropped to 23,000 in 2012 and 19,000 in 2013. Currently, the Twins have sold 17,100 tickets and hope to reach 17,500 season tickets this year, the Star Tribune says.

In 2009, the Twins drew 2.416 million fans to the Metrodome – they won the division championship and it was the last season in the multipurpose stadium. St. Peter says you can't compare the 2009 season to current ticket sales – that year, the Twins only sold 11,000 season tickets, the Star Tribune says.

Could a winning team bring more attendance? St. Peter told the Pioneer Press it would take a pennant race to get season tickets back up to 19,000.

After shelling out nearly $87 million to sign four free agents – Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey and Kurt Suzuki – even Twins CEO Jim Pohlad is guarded in his optimism about the team's performance, according to the Pioneer Press.

"We're as optimistic as 29 other clubs," Pohlad told the newspaper. "We understand we came off three tough seasons. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."

The Twins open their season on March 31 against the White Sox in Chicago. Tickets are still available for the home opener on April 7 vs. the Oakland Athletics.

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