Hennen: Where have all the fans gone?
Hennen questions the reasons for low attendance at Twins baseball games.
Where have all the Minnesota Twins fans gone? The Twins are having a good year. They are in the hunt for a first place position. I took in a game recently with some clients and everyone agreed the baseball on the field would normally draw bigger crowds.
Is it a fear of being in downtown Minneapolis? The crime problem there isn't a secret. And if fans don't feel safe, they are not going to risk a car-jacking, smash and grab or a mugging to take in a baseball game. Or are fans out of the habit after COVID lockdowns? If your routine was to take in 3-4 games a year and you couldn't anymore, maybe you're on to different pastimes.
Another theory is that the woke agenda of too many professional athletes has prompted a swath of fans to spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere. I'd say it's a combination of all of those, but the most dangerous is the perception of feeling unsafe in downtown Minneapolis.
Minnesota, and especially the Twin Cities area, needs better leaders. When you can't bring yourself to even call a riot anything other than "civil unrest" or a "peaceful protest," you have lost before you started. Minneapolis has a huge problem, mostly because you can't find elected leaders who acknowledge a problem everyone else sees quite clearly. Here is an example from my mailbag:
"Scott—I was a teacher in the Minneapolis St. Paul area--we moved back home to the safety of good 'ole ND — the Twin Cities has changed dramatically! One evening while stopped at a red traffic light our vehicle was approached by 3 young gentlemen with malicious intent — I stepped on the gas and had to run the red light to flee harm! Terrifying! That is our lasting memory of a family evening out in the Twin Cities along with Governor Walz's shutdowns and the burning down of South Minneapolis. We found over time even the churches in the Twin Cities became more liberal—even evangelical churches!"
What fixes this mess?
- Leadership. Recognize perception is reality. The elephant is in the room. This is a problem that requires fixing immediately. Minneapolis needs more law enforcement officers, not less. Minnesota needs more criminals in jail. Remember when Vice President Kamala Harris encouraged millions in donations to bail out rioters? The fund bailed out defendants from Twin Cities jails charged with murder, violent felonies, and sex crimes.
- Branding. After you address the problem and do something about it, you'll need to tell people what you have done. This will require demonstrating real solutions and downtown Minneapolis becoming safer sooner. Show law enforcement officers on every corner. Detail the progress in transparent reporting. This will take years of effort, much like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani did in the Big Apple.
- Corporate partners can validate progress, when and if it comes from these efforts. Target's corporate headquarters in Downtown Minneapolis has been moth-balled. They say their employees don't feel safe. They are not alone. If the people that live and work there are unwilling to come back, who can blame fans?
Get to work Minneapolis. You have a mess of your making.
Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at ScottH@FlagFamily.com
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.