Major League Baseball owners and players may be close to settling their differences and avoiding a walkout. But, without an 11th hour reprieve, players will strike Friday. Those in and around the Metrodome who depend on the Twins for income say a strike would have substantial short and long term effects on their pocketbooks, and on baseball in Minnesota.
Let's say every person who attends a Twins game spends a total of $25 on a ticket, food and parking. Multiple that by 28,660 -- that's how many people attended Tuesday's game between the Twins and the Seattle Mariners -- and you get more than $700,000.
Assume the Twins will average about that attendance for the 12 games that remain after Friday's strike deadline. Now multiply 700,000 by 12, and you'll get almost $9 million. That's how much Twins fans won't be spending this year if a strike ends the Twin's season.
And that figure does not include the money fans would have spent during the post season. Clearly anything more than the briefest of strikes will have a substantial economic impact.
A strike would come at an unfortunate time.
The Twins are solidly atop their division, and playing their best baseball in 11 years, and the formidable Mariners are in town with Ichiro Suzuki.
For Steve Anderly, part owner of Hubert's Bar across the street from the Metrodome, it's yet another good night in a good year.
"This is probably in the top five or six years for us in our 19-year existence as far as revenues and what we project to do the rest of the year. So it's been a very good year until now," according to Anderly.
The source of Anderly's success is clear enough. Attendance at Twins games is back again, after languishing in the years following the 1994 strike.
Attendance fell dramatically in 1995, and didn't pick up again until last year when the Twins started to become competitive again.
Bill Lester, the executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, says it may taken even longer for fans to return from a strike this time.
"A long layoff would be really devastating here," he says. "These fans went through that before. And I think no market in the country was slower coming back to baseball than Minneapolis St. Paul and Minnesota. And I think if this went on very long, you'd have an equal problem or a worse problem."
That would be bad first for fans and the team, but also for the state. The state collected roughly $5 million in taxes from the Twins and visiting teams in 2001.
Lester says it would also mean no jobs for the many people who rely on the Twins for their livelihood. "There are anywhere up to 700 people working this game tonight who are hourly people. The concessions people, the scoreboard operators; all those people depend on this, some for their main source of income, some for discretionary income. And it's an important part of their lives."
Al Romportl has been selling beer at the Dome for 17 years, and now makes about $20,000 just working Twins games.
"You just try to think it's not going to happen, but history tells us it's going to happen," says Romportl, who has been through strikes before, like the one eight years ago. But a strike this year would hit him harder than the one in 1994.
"At that time for me personally, I had a full time job. So it didn't impact me quite as much as it this time would I think. Just because this is my only source of income right now," he says.
Deep in the belly of the Metrodome, Mark Hershkowitz runs the stadium's TV screens and scoreboards. This is his full time job and a strike would put him out of work until the winter sports began. He's been through so many baseball work stoppages that they've all sort of blended together.
There have been nine work stoppages since 1972, but Hershkowitz agrees a strike this year might be somewhat more memorable for the effect it could have on the game.
"If they go on strike, I don't see it ending for awhile. I could see the owners locking them out, I could see no baseball for next summer. It'll destroy baseball, it'll destroy the team," says Hershkowitz.
But Hershkowitz says he's yet to brace himself and his family for a strike. He doesn't think the players and the owners are, in his words, stupid enough to let their dispute go that far.More from MPR