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ISSUE 119 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/28/2006

Twins bid to ditch "Humpty Dome"

By Ryan Maus
Sports Editor

Friday, April 28, 2006

Those of you who have been paying any attention at all to the Minnesota political scene should know that the quest for a new Twins ballpark recently experienced a major boost. Last week, the Minnesota House Taxes Committee voted that a referendum would not be needed to enact a .15 percent Hennepin County sale tax to help fund a $522 million Twins ballpark.

The implications of this vote are complicated, but for the uninformed, know this: After over 10 years of posturing, it looks as though this is the year Twins fans will finally receive the outdoor venue they have been pining for.

However, even if the final ballpark bill is approved before the legislative session ends May 31 (an occurrence that seems likely now), the earliest Twins fans will be able to watch their favorite team outdoors is probably 2010.

In the meantime, those who pine for the best baseball this state has to offer (or simply a distraction from the tedium of summertime) will have to head indoors to the team's current home, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. The Teflon-covered concrete behemoth, which seats 48,000 for baseball games, has been the team's home since 1982.

For much of the team's recent history, the franchise has struggled to draw fans to the Dome. Despite winning their second World Series Championship in 1991, the Twins posted one of the worst overall records of the decade, finishing in last (or second-to-last) place eight out of 10 years. The combination of lackluster baseball and unappealing venue crippled the team at the gate – the Twins ranked dead last in the American League in attendance from 1998 to 2000.

The Twins' recent run of competitiveness (they have posted five straight winning seasons) has helped alleviate their attendance woes slightly, but the franchise's front office still employs several different ticket promotions throughout the year to help bring fans to the ballpark.

Some of the Twins' most popular promotions are those geared towards students. Currently, Wednesdays at the Dome are known as “Student Nights,” in which anyone with a student ID can catch some mid-week baseball action for just $3. That weekday, not coincidentally, is also home to another popular tradition: Dollar-A-Dog Days. Fans can buy Hormel hot dogs for just $1 on Wednesdays, meaning a student can see high-quality baseball and enjoy some classic ballpark grub for under $5.

“I love going to games on Wednesdays, mainly because it's so much cheaper,” said Krista Siems '07, who attends several Twins games every year. “You still get to experience the joy of going to a Twins game but for a fraction of the cost.”

Siems also commented on the student culture that seems to prevail at these mid-week match-ups.

“On student days when I'm with seven or eight of my friends, it becomes OK for us to act however we want without worrying about offending anybody or anything,” Siems said. “We can cheer or heckle or yell 'LEEWWW' [for Twins' outfielder Lew Ford] really loud without worrying about disturbing some old people in the seats next to us. It's a great opportunity to hang out with friends and catch a ballgame at the same time.”

So until the Twins officially begin play in their new ballpark (Best Buy Stadium? Pillsbury Park?) some time near the turn of the decade, baseball fans (and students) will just have to make do with the “Humpty Dome.” If you're looking for something to do this summer on a Wednesday that won't break the bank, just head for that big white pillow in downtown Minneapolis. You certainly can't miss it.

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