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Twins cap home slate with a 4-3 loss to White Sox

Minnesota is searching for ways to improve attendance figures

Chicago White Sox third baseman Josh Harrison slides in safe at home plate as Minnesota Twins catcher Gary Sanchez attempts to apply the tag during the third inning Sept. 29, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Chicago White Sox third baseman Josh Harrison slides in safe at home plate as Minnesota Twins catcher Gary Sanchez attempts to apply the tag during the third inning Sept. 29, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — As the 2022 season winds to a close — officially now with no playoff appearance in store after the Twins were eliminated from Wild Card contention late Wednesday night — a full-scale look at what went wrong and how to improve upon that is underway.

Much of the outside focus will turn to the front office and what it is going to be done to improve a team that has now missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons. Baseball operations, team president and CEO Dave St. Peter said, will continue to be led by Derek Falvey, whom he lent his support to, saying Falvey would be back in 2023 “and I’m hoping many, many years after that.”

Nick Gordon hits a two-run double during the first inning against the White Sox on Sept. 29, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Nick Gordon hits a two-run double during the first inning against the White Sox on Sept. 29, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports

Much of St. Peter’s focus will be on how to improve upon sagging attendance figures and the ballpark experience at Target Field. In front of 23,397 fans Thursday afternoon, the Twins lost 4-3 to the visiting Chicago White Sox, capping off their 81-game home slate.

Target Field attendance has sunk to 20th out of 30 major-league teams and at 22,236 fans per game (1,801,128 across 81), it is the lowest that number has been since Target Field opened, with the exception of 2020, when there were no fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2021, when there were pandemic restrictions for part of the season, capping the percentage of fans allowed through the gates.

While St. Peter acknowledged that they knew the Twins were behind going into the season as a result of the offseason lockout that caused uncertainty and slowed ticket buying, he found himself “surprised and kind of bordering on disappointed” that attendance did not pick up as they would have hoped during the second half of the season with the Twins in first place in the American League Central division.

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In response, St. Peter said the Twins need to do a “better job connecting with the fanbase.”

“Part of it is organizationally, we’re looking at everything we’re doing and how we’re marketing our club, how we’re pricing our tickets, how we’re reaching out to different communities. We have to own that,” St. Peter said. “There’s also a narrative around public safety in our city that is having an impact. There’s economic issues that are impacting everybody that’s having an impact. But we’re going to focus on the things we can control.”

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That includes the experience at the ballpark, St. Peter said.

And the ballpark experience, of course, starts with the team playing on the field.

That team on Thursday finished its home schedule with a loss, this one coming after a costly error in the eighth inning when second baseman Nick Gordon missed a pop up, allowing the runner, Mark Payton, to wind up on second. Payton advanced on a wild pitch and quickly came around to score on Jose Abreu’s double.

Maplewood’s Louie Varland, in his fourth career, gave up two runs on three hits — all in the third inning — and took a no-decision in the Twins’ loss.

“Probably a few fewer fans in the stands, but we’ve got to play better. That’s the way I’ll look at it,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I would expect that you go out there and win and get that momentum and enthusiasm going, and normally in our game that’s when everyone wants to show up and everyone comes out and really gets strongly behind you, so I’ll look at it from that angle.”

Billy Hamilton steals third base as Chicago's Josh Harrison applies the late tag during the sixth inning Sept. 29, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Billy Hamilton steals third base as Chicago's Josh Harrison applies the late tag during the sixth inning Sept. 29, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA TWINS
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