SBJ/June 17-23, 2013/Facilities

Twins target midsize concerts with amphitheater-style setup

Don Muret
The Minnesota Twins are using Target Field to test the need for a midsize amphitheater in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market.

The Twins, in conjunction with local promoter Sue McClean & Associates and K-TWIN FM, are producing the inaugural Skyline Music Festival at the ballpark. The Pohlad family, which owns the Twins, also owns K-TWIN, and the station has the team’s broadcast rights.

The July 26 concert, featuring Soul Asylum and the Gear Daddies, two Minnesota bands, plus Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Matthew Sweet, will be held in a scaled-down setting at Target Field. The stage will be set up just past the infield dirt and face the seats along the third-base side.

The Twins are restricting capacity for the concert to 7,000 to maintain the feel of an amphitheater and ensure a quality experience for customers paying $25 to $45 for tickets, said Laura Day, the Twins’ executive vice president of business development.
 
As of last week, about 4,000 tickets had been sold, Day said. Twins premium-seat holders were able to buy seats tied to the DeltaSky360 Legends Club before tickets went on sale to the public. Those seats, among the farthest from the stage, are being sold for the concert as general admission tickets.

The show fits the Twins’ vision to position Target Field as a community asset, Day said. Plus, team officials see the potential to host smaller outdoor concerts in addition to larger shows such as Kenny Chesney’s annual stadium tour, booked July 12 at the ballpark.

For many years, the Twin Cities has not had an amphitheater to accommodate 6,000 to 8,000 people, Day said. The efforts to build a permanent outdoor venue for touring acts included the ill-fated Black Dog Amphitheater, a project in which the Minnesota Wild were partners with another local concert promoter during Day’s tenure with the NHL team in the early 2000s. The project, in the Twin Cities suburb of Burnsville, never broke ground in part because of residents’ concerns with environmental and sound issues.

“We want to see if we can fill that niche with the beautiful downtown skyline in the background,” Day said.
 
The event’s presenting sponsors, Michelob Golden Draft Light and Rockstar Energy Drink, are brands tied to Twins partners Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi. Michelob, which does not have a big marketing presence at Twins games, gets pre-concert hospitality as part of its deal, Day said.

As part of the event production, the Twins will show the concert live on the park’s center-field video board.
Day would not disclose the Twins’ investment but their expenses are “very affordable” compared with putting on a full-size stadium show such as Chesney, she said. The team pays a fee to Sue McLean & Associates and will generate most of its revenue from concessions.

As with all non-baseball events, the Twins get to keep 100 percent of their share of concert income under MLB’s revenue-sharing agreement.

“We’re not in this necessarily to make money,” Day said. “It’s more about learning how to do this and to see if there is an appetite for more of a true amphitheater-style experience. If there is, we will continue to do it.”

> TIDBITS: Facility research firm CSL International has been conducting a feasibility study for the Oakland Raiders to determine the demand for a new NFL stadium in Oakland, CSL principal Bill Rhoda said. The Raiders confirmed the information but are not ready to make any further comment, team spokesman Mike Taylor said. Separately, sports architect AECOM has studied the same issue for the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium Authority. … Sports marketer Jason Gonella is now working for Van Wagner Group, the company hired by the Minnesota Vikings to sell naming rights and premium seats and develop technology for their new stadium project. Gonella previously sold premium seats for the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as AEG and Legends Sales and Marketing. … Skanska USA won the job to renovate Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium, a project with $85 million in hard construction costs. The same firm interviewed last week for the Rupp Arena rehab in Lexington.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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