Now is the time! Now is the time?
It is perennially at this juncture of the baseball season that I feel some anxiety over the Twins' performance. Of course, the campaign is merely 21 games young. However, with both the Wild and the Wolves now done for the year, with the NFL draft conducted this weekend, and with SportsCenter pumping the leviathan popularity of the NFL our way as early as July, I've developed an unrest that the Twins need to win now to truly magnetize their fan base, ride the wave of early-season buzz, and maintain sports page headlines.
Furthermore, summer competition for fans has become more intense over the last decade. The St. Paul Saints remain popular and begin at the end of the month (although the Twins ensuing open-airness will surely grab some of their fans). Then there's a sport that I don't get (MN Swarm) that has been drawing upwards of 11,000 fans and has the playoff potential to bleed into mid-May, and a sport that I don’t personally care for (MN Thunder) that has both men's and women's teams that play heavily in the summer months, with the former's season going long into September.
And so, I worry. But I shouldn't. Because after poring over a sample of some Twins attendance numbers, I soon learned that my concern was misguided. The following -- from 2002-07-- charts the average attendance for the 7 Twins' home games that follow the closure of whichever winter sport concluded latest (after day of date provided), compared with average attendance for the 7 Twins home games following the completion of the first Vikings pre-season game (after day of date provided). Also noted are both the Twins respective records at the onset of both points in each year, and if the club made the playoffs in said season.
2002, (4/29/02): Record: 15-11 Average Attendance: 15,312
(8/11/02)- Playoffs record: 70-49 Ave. Atten.: 30, 607 % increase of 99.9
2003, (5/17/03) Record: 24-18 Ave. Atten.: 22,572
(8/10/03)-Playoffs Record: 60-57 Ave. Atten.: 29,648 % increase of 31.3
2004, (6/1/04) Record: 28-23 Ave. Atten.: 16,442
(8/15/04)-Playoffs Record: 64-53 Ave. Atten.: 31,435 % increase of 91.2
2005, (4/21/05) Record: 10-6 Ave. Atten.: 23,319
(8/13/05) Record: 59-57 Ave. Atten.: 29,559 % increase of 26.8
2006, (4/20/06) Record: 7-8 Ave. Atten.: 15,985
(8/15/06)-Playoffs Record: 69-49 Ave. Atten.: 37,315 % increase of 133.4
2007, (4/20/07) Record: 10-6 Ave. Atten.: 21,488
(8/11/07) Record: 58-58 Ave. Atten.: 32,579 % increase of 51.6
And while there are no doubt piles of additional factors that play into the disparity of numbers (e.g., level of visiting competition, weather, local events, lake homes, soccer, sunburn), the overwhelming increase in attendance percentages largely suggest that Dome seats will be far more inhabited come August whether we're winning, losing, or just average.
My early-season neurosis is for naught. Shit, did I leave the iron on?
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