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Twins attendance: Where is everyone?
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"You've always got your bandwagon jumpers, but the true fans are there, I think," says Danny Cousins, who was buying tickets to see the Twins play the Chicago White Sox in two weeks. (MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)
The Minnesota Twins began selling playoff tickets on Thursday. The Twins are in a close pennant race with two other teams in the American League Central Division. On Wednesday they moved into tie for first place in the division after a dramatic ninth inning comeback win. But some baseball insiders are wondering where the fans are. Attendance at the Metrodome is behind last years, and TV ratings are down significantly. Team officials say they're not worried about the numbers and say they expect crowds to increase as the season draws to a close.

Minneapolis, Minn. — The Minnesota Twins have pulled themselves out of a midseason slump and now have a good chance to take the Central Division title for the second year in a row. However, the team has sold about 74,000 fewer tickets than last season. The Twins have been running a series of television and radio ads aimed at encouraging fans to get off their couches and cheer on the team at the Metrodome.

Team officials say they're not worried about the attendance drop from last year. They point out that at this point in the season last year, the Twins had locked up the division title and fan enthusiasm was high.

The Twins have begun selling playoff tickets and ticket agents are accepting a steady flow of orders. Team spokesman Brad Reiter says tickets are only available by phone or through the team's Web site and are for all 11 potential playoff games. Reiter says if the Twins don't go to the playoffs -- or if they don't play all of the games -- fans will receive a refund.

"If we were to wait until the season was over -- this division race is probably going to go down to the last week or few days of the season. And if we were going to wait and only have a window of, say, 48 hours or so to sell playoff tickets before our first playoff game, we couldn't do it. It would be impossible," he said.

Reiter says playoff ticket sales have been helped by the Twins series win this week over the World Champion Anaheim Angels. Wednesday afternoon, the Twins beat the Angels on the last play of the game in front of a crowd of just over 11 thousand people. Reiter says the Twins don't expect large crowds for weekday matinee games.

"We knew going into the season that Tuesday and Wednesday's games against Anaheim were probably going to be our two lowest crowds of the season, or two of the lowest crowds of the season. We anticipated that and we're looking forward to a strong finish to the season when we play the White Sox at home for three games in the middle of the month. We should be able to make up a good share of our average attendance in those three games for certain," he says.

The Twins say the slow economy and the strong finish by the Minnesota Wild hockey team may have kept some fans from turning out this year. Sporadic attendance may also be the result of inconsistent play on the part of the Twins. After taking a division lead early this season, the team went on a losing streak and fell out of first place by the All-Star Break. But some fans say that's not an excuse to give up on the team.

"You've always got your bandwagon jumpers, but the true fans are there, I think," says Danny Cousins, who was buying tickets to see the Twins play the Chicago White Sox in two weeks.

The Twins and White Sox are tied at the top of the division, but are ahead of the Kansas City Royals by only one game. Cousins says maybe some fans stayed away from the Metrodome this week because of the beginning of the school year. But he doesn't think attendance will be a problem for the rest of the season.

"I think you're going to see more of us coming out and getting tickets as soon as we can. My wife sent me right down here today," he said

The Twins begin a three game series against the Texas Rangers Friday.

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