MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In a game where numbers rule, the 2016 Minnesota Twins set a record they never wanted.
The worst record in baseball and the most losses in Twins franchise history: 103.
Even though the Twins’ owners promised competitive teams if taxpayers built them a new stadium.
The Minnesota Legislature approved the publicly funded ballpark in May 2006 in a final vote of 34-32.
“Kirby Puckett’s number! How appropriate is that?” said a weary but ebullient Jerry Bell, a top Twins official.
Taxpayers picked up $392 million of the $522 million stadium tab.
But if the Twins said the new stadium revenues allowed them to compete on the field, that’s not what happened.
Since Target Field opened in 2010, the Twins have recorded a record of 501 wins and 633 losses.
Attendance plummeted from 3.2 million in 2010 to 1.9 million in 2016.
And the team value soared: from $356 million in 2006 to $910 million dollars today.
A spokesman for the Twins told Reality Check:
“We said the ballpark would be an important piece to our overall product. No doubt the on-field play has been disappointing and we are taking appropriate measures to address the problems,” said Dustin Morse, senior director of communications for the Twins. “We never stated a new ballpark would guarantee a competitive team, we did say the new ballpark would provide revenues aimed at helping the Twins compete.”
In fact, the Twins said it numerous times in the decade leading up to the 2006 stadium vote, including on their official website:
“In 2002, 2003 and 2004, the Twins finished in first place in the American League’s Central Division; nevertheless, the revenues they were able to generate in the Metrodome ranked only 25th out of 30 major league franchises. This is due to the configuration of the Metrodome as a football facility, as well as the lease limitations on major revenue streams such as advertising, suites and parking. This will result in the team’s inability to field a competitive team and offer fans an exciting Major League Baseball experience over the long-term.”
Target Field did bring higher revenues: Annual revenues in 2010 were $158 million, and $240 million in 2015.
But Twins spokesman Morse admits: “It’s clear we have not made enough good baseball decisions to ensure competitiveness at the Major League level.”
That’s Reality Check.
Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:
MN Twins Record By Year
MN Twins 2006 Team Value
MN Twins 2009 Team Value:
MN Twins 2016 Team Value
2016 MLB Team Payrolls
MN Twins New Stadium Q & A
MN Senate Stadium Briefing