"New is always better."
Those words were immortalized by Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother back in Season 6. Ironically though, because it was supposedly his oldest rule, that meant it was the best.
This weekend, we will be treated to TwinsFest being held in Target Field for the first time. Just like when the event was moved to the National Sports Center in Blaine, a limited number of tickets were released for each day, although from my recollection only Saturday has been sold out thus far. This is being done because the entire event is supposed to be held indoors, and Target Field's indoors area is only so big, and thus it's understandable that only a limited number of people can participate.
With the new location, there will still be the fan favorites of the autograph lines, photo opportunities, and radio interviews, along with self-guided tours of the ballpark, tours of the Twins clubhouse, the chance to bat in the same batting cage as the Twins, and more. However, there is something that really irks me this year.
No, the lack of available tickets is not my problem. I was able to score tickets when it was at the NSC, and I was proactive and got my Saturday tickets for myself and my fiancee with plenty of time to spare. Rather, it's that the free minor league line is no more.
For the past couple years, the main reason I've attended TwinsFest as a fan was because of the minor league line. Though the current major leaguers are the most famous, I've always fancied the chance of getting the autographs of the future stars, the players of tomorrow, mainly because they did not cost a penny. Yeah, you had to embarrass yourself in front of the nobodies - sorry Nate Hanson, I have no clue who you are - but it was worth it to nab the autograph of that first round pick. Besides, sometimes the other guys have some good humor about it, like Toby Gardenhire who pretended he didn't want to look at me anymore when I said I was only getting signatures from Aaron Hicks and Carlos Gutierrez.
But, this year the Twins will be charging a minimum of $10 for all lines, meaning the free minor league line has been axed, and this is my issue. Now, I'd like to point out that I can easily afford chipping in an extra $30-50 this year for the chance of getting autographs of Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton. Do I want to, though? Not really.
Yeah, I understand the money goes to the Twins Community Fund, so really it's for a good cause. My argument is not only on my behalf, however, but for Twins fans everywhere. With their explosion in popularity, attending and participating in professional sports events has become more and more expensive. Going to a game at the Metrodome was very reasonable. Going to Target Field, not so much. Similarly, we're seeing the same thing here with TwinsFest.
Granted, the Twins are capitalizing on the massive potential behind Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. However, part of me also feels that they're trying to recoup some of the lost money from capping the number of guests for TwinsFest this year, and in doing so it's leading to another hit to the collective fans' wallets and purses.
There is part of me that thinks that this will be a temporary fee. I imagine that once Sano and Buxton have been expelled from the minor league system, the team will return to having a farm system of years past where there are a few noteworthy players coming up, but none with the future stardom power of those two. With no huge draws, these autograph lines won't draw as many fans to make them worthwhile. Even a drop in cost in the future would be welcome; after all, a $5 fee is certainly more welcoming than a $10 charge.
Nevertheless, many fans and myself would prefer if the free line had remained. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and since I started this article with a quote, I guess I may as well end it with one as well. This comes not from a celebrity or a character from a TV show or movie, but rather an observation I made back in college.
"Being resistant to change makes the adaptation harder."
By the way, in addition to having tickets for Saturday, I will also be volunteering at TwinsFest on Friday and Sunday, I do not know where I will be stationed, but I'll try to drop a tweet or two each day to reveal my whereabouts. Of course, if you're active around the entire event, you'll probably run into me regardless.