The Saint Paul Saints have always been the masters of promotion. When they posted a link to a “Media Member for the Day” event, I grabbed the August 27th game against the Chicago Dogs and patiently waited. With only a handful of regular season games left, tonight was the night. I walked across the street from our house and picked up my pass from the box office, entered the VIP/Media entrance on Broadway and walked up to my perch behind home plate.
Working in an NFL stadium, our press box is only in use ten days a year (unless there is a Minneapolis Miracle). The Saints play fifty home games in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, plus the potential for best-of-five divisional and championship match-ups. With seven games left in the 2019 season, the Saints have a record of 59-34 and are 1.5 games back of Fargo-Moorhead, who clinched a playoff spot last night.
If they make the post-season, this will be the second year in a row. We went to all of the playoff games last year and were really surprised at how few people attended. The Saints lead the league in regular season attendance – in fact, they have double the attendance of the next closest team this year (363,109 versus 167,131 for Winnipeg). CHS Field (built in 2015 for $64.7 million by Ryan Companies) officially holds 7,210 fans, but the Saints average 8,069 people per game. My guess is that the huge corporate outing business that drives attendance during the year just isn’t there for the playoff games. If the Saints do make it to back-to-back playoffs, the dates this year would be:
- Divisional Playoff Games: 9/4, 9/5, 9/7 (9/8 & 9/9, if necessary)
- Championship Games: 9/11, 9/12, 9/14 (9/15 & 9/16, if necessary)
The division winner gets to choose which games they will host, with one team hosting the first two games and the other team hosting Game 3, as well as the final two games if they end up being needed.
So how does this press box compare to ours? The Vikings have spaces for 175 people in the main seating area and I would say you could squeeze in about six people at CHS. We both have high-speed WiFi and wired data ports available, a friendly press box announcer that reports stats as they happen and complimentary food and beverages. The press box at CHS sits between the TV broadcast booth on one side and the event production booth on the other. Of course, this is also where the peanuts get thrown down during the seventh inning stretch (looking forward to that).
Nothing against the Saints, but they really get caught up in the overall decline of local journalism. I can understand no Star Tribune or TV representation, but where is the Pioneer Press? Aside from the occasional Shooter mention, I don’t think you can even find a box score in the hometown paper. John Shipley did write a story during the All-Star festivities, but that was likely just because Joe Mauer and a bunch of Vikings played in the charity softball game.
Aside from that issue, the Saints definitely produce a great product in the crowded Twin Cities sports market. As a guy who grew up in Saint Paul going to games at Midway Stadium, the organization will always hold a special place in the history of the city. The new City of Baseball museum along the third base line is really well done and is a great addition to the building. CHS Field truly is a beautiful facility and GM Derek Sharrer runs a great operation.
Thanks for letting me visit!Originally published by DK on August 27, 2019 at 9:38 pm