Why not a Minor League team in Minnesota?

Yesterday, the Minnesota Twins’ Class A affiliate in Beloit started the 2012 season with a 5-2 loss to Peoria.

The final score isn’t really the story here. The real story is that the announced attendance at the game was a paltry 759, which raises the question as to why the Twins have a minor league team in Wisconsin in the first place.

One can assume the typical Beloit baseball fan is also a Brewers fan. So why would there be much interest in attending a minor league game that had future players for the Minnesota Twins?

Beloit has the advantage of having some of the Twins top prospects, including highly-anticipated players like Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano. There are reasons for optimism and interest among hard-core Twins fans.

Imagine if the Beloit Snappers were instead the Rochester Snappers. Or the Duluth Snappers. Or, are you ready for this, the St. Paul Saints. Interest would be much higher if the minor league team played in the same state as its parent club, instead of a state that already has a major league team.

I know there are more reasons for having a team in Beloit than attendance, such as geography with other teams in the Class A Midwest League. However, geographically Rochester isn’t really far out of the picture, when you consider other teams on Beloit’s schedule include Cedar Rapids, Clinton and the Quad Cities in Iowa.

When you compare attendance from the opening day in the Midwest League, Beloit is by far the lowest with 759. Second worst was Clinton with 1,003. The other five teams with openers had at least 4,576, with two (Fort Wayne and Dayton) over 8,000.

Last year, Beloit averaged 1,030 spectators per game, ranking second worst in the league (Burlington averaged 835 per game). In the league, 10 out of 16 teams averaged more than 3,485 per game. Consider the Rochester Honkers, a member of a summer collegiate baseball league (the Northwoods League), averaged more than 1,100 in attendance for the 2009 season and 1,271 last season.

Moving a team to Minnesota makes sense for a variety of reasons, most of all it would give Twins fans a look at what they can expect in the future. And given the organization’s most talented prospects are all at the A level, that can only be a good thing.

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