Advertisement

With upper level closed, Twins fans say early-season games feel more fun

The Twins' experiment with closing most upper-level seats for most of April is nearing an end, and while some worried about spendier seats, fans said prices have been decent and it was more fun than being in a mostly empty section.

"I do think it's a good idea where everybody's down lower, as long as the prices are reasonable," said Bobbi Chavez of Albertville, Minn. She decided to go to the game Sunday morning and found $16 tickets at the last minute.

Matt Hodson, a spokesperson for the Twins, said the decision to keep the top levels closed this April was meant to make early-season games more fun for the people who do go. With iffy weather and school still in session, Hodson said April games typically draw 13,000 to 20,000 people — barely half of Target Field's capacity. It's been this way for more than a decade, he said, after the excitement over the new stadium wore off in about 2012. Sunday's game drew only 17,757.

He said the concerts after games last year inspired the decision to close the upper level. At those concerts, everyone flowed into the lower levels, Hodson said, and it felt a little more lively. "Everybody liked being near each other," he said.

Sitting in a fuller section felt better at a less-attended game, fans said.

"It's one thing to limit seats if the demand is there," said Mike Jechorek of Brooklyn Park, "but it's better than having two fans in every other section."

Hodson said the Twins use "dynamic pricing" to adjust the price of games based on demand — meaning it's not necessarily more expensive to sit on the lower level. There are lower seats for some April games that will be cheaper than upper-level seats for some summer games, he said. And had demand for any April game been strong, he said, some upper-level sections would be opened.

Most fans either had not noticed the upper level was closed or were happy to be sitting lower.

"We got excellent seats because of it being closed," said MariAnne Riley of Austin, Minn., who got tickets Sunday through her work, which has season tickets in the upper level.

Hodson said season ticket-holders who usually have upper-level seats have been moved down to the lower levels. The only hiccups, he said, have come when people with season tickets sell their seats. Hodson said the Twins have had to rely on the ticketholders to tell the people buying their seats where their new lower-level seats are.

"It's probably a good idea if they don't expect a sellout," said Barry Rogers of Robbinsdale.

"It's a good business decision," agreed Mary Timmons, wondering how much they saved by keeping the upper-level concessions stands closed and having less to clean up at the end of the game.

Hodson said there is a savings, but it was not the deciding factor in keeping the upper seats closed.

Families with younger children had mixed feelings, mostly because it is easier to let a toddler run around on the less crowded upper level.

Matt and Kate Shalbrack of Roseville usually bring their 20-month-old son, Everett, to the upper level. "It makes it easier to spread out a little, and it's more affordable," Kate Shalbrack said. Everett is almost big enough to need his own seat, she said, so ballpark outings are about to get more expensive anyway.

Even so, the family found $18 tickets on StubHub on Sunday morning, she said — a little cheaper than the $25 to $30 they typically pay for upper-deck seats and all the fees.

Hodson said the Twins have not decided if they will close the upper levels every April but will use postgame surveys to gauge what fans like.

"After 10-plus years of seeing April crowds being what they are, we said, let's try it out," Hodson said. "It's a one-year experiment."