SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2005/Forty Under 40

Dave St Peter

DAVE ST. PETER, MINNESOTA TWINS

BY RUSSELL ADAMS
STAFF WRITER

Throughout Dave St. Peter’s upbringing in North Dakota in the 1970s, his family used to pile in the station wagon for the six-hour drive from Bismarck to the Twin Cities to watch the Minnesota Twins play. It was during those long drives that St. Peter’s father, an avid New York Yankees fan, instilled in his son a devotion to Thurman Munson, Catfish Hunter and the other architects of the Yankees’ resurrection.

Dave St. Peter
• Age: 37
• Title: President
• Team: Minnesota Twins
• Education: B.A., public relations, University of North Dakota, 1989
• Family: Wife, Joanie; sons Jack, 8, Eric, 6, and Benjamin, 6
• Career: Retail store manager, Minnesota Twins, 1990-1991; manager of communications, 1992-1995; director of communications, 1996-1998; vice president, corporate communications, 1999; senior vice president, business affairs, 1999-2002; named president in November 2002
• Last vacation: Punta Mita, Mexico
• Last book read: "Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable" by Seth Godin
• Last movie seen: "Polar Express"
• Greatest achievement: Surviving 15 years in this game
• Greatest disappointment: Still not having a resolution to our ballpark situation
• Fantasy job: U.S. senator
• Executive most admired: Former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle
• Business advice: There's no substitute for hard work.
St. Peter says he got over his love for the Yankees, but fortunately for the Twins, he’s held on to the healthy appreciation that those trips gave him for the lengths Midwestern families are willing to go to get to a major league game.

“I spend a lot of time with my marketing staff trying to attract families,” said St. Peter, president of the Twins for the last two years. “In many ways, my youth, and specifically the family dynamic, has served me well.”

While Twins general manager Terry Ryan has orchestrated three straight American League Central Division titles on the field, St. Peter has helped create economic stability off it. The Twins, fueled by overall industry growth and the club’s ability to capitalize on its large regional appeal, broke even in 2004 on an operating basis while carrying a $54 million player payroll.

Jerry Bell, president of the club’s Twins Sports Inc. parent company, cited a flexible ticket plan that the Twins will offer this season as well as the addition of 133 seats billed as “Dugout seats on the field” as the latest of many examples of St. Peter’s ability to create new revenue streams.

“He’s been creative and innovative, and he brings a high degree of energy,” Bell said. “He thinks outside the box.”

St. Peter, since becoming team president in 2002, has overseen the difficult task of managing the Twins’ relationship with sponsors and fans while the team has flirted with contraction and continued to play in one of Major League Baseball’s least fan-friendly venues.

Despite a family-friendly commitment to keeping ticket prices well below the league average, the Twins have failed to draw 2 million fans in a season since 1993. But the franchise has employed an aggressive regional marketing approach reflected in its recently unveiled “This is Twins territory” ad campaign. Highlighting the approach is what is believed to be the most extensive winter caravan in Major League Baseball, spanning more than 50 cities in five states, including Bismarck.

Such efforts have helped the club cultivate a vast and loyal television audience that Twins executives said is finally reflected in their local television revenue, even though their grand vision of $50 million in annual revenue from a team-owned network failed shortly after its inception last year.

For all the team’s magic of the last few years, the Twins’ long-term success depends on the club’s ability to secure financing for a new ballpark, a task that rests largely on St. Peter’s shoulders. It’s a major responsibility for a guy who once aspired to be the sports information director at a major university before taking a job managing one of the Twins’ retail stores 15 years ago.

“I’ve always believed that just working in sports is a privilege,” St. Peter said. “I’ve been given a greater opportunity to lead, and I’m honored and humbled.”

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