Torii Hunter's tear-stained quasi-farewell on Sunday at the Dome was heart-rending, both for huge Hunter fans and for those who know that Denard Span is the only other option for 2008. We know that Torii wants a long-term deal, one that will likely cost his employer a rather large chunk of cash. It's this cost, of paying a rapidly-aging center fielder big bucks with an uncertain payout, that has the team dithering about how far it's willing to go, contract-wise.
In a year, we may see a similar September event, when Johan Santana makes what could be his final Metrodome start. And no doubt the fans will react in the same way, by giving him a standing ovation and hoping that the team finds a way to bring him back. And the sticking point in the negotiations will be the same: money.
The Twins franchise has long been a model of fiscal restraint, and the team has been able to set its payroll based on a reasonably-certain revenue expectation. But starting in 2010 - just two seasons from now - the current revenue model becomes officially obsolete.
To be more direct: the Twins can't claim to make the Hunter and Santana decisions based the club's future revenue streams - as they have made decisions in the past- because they have no idea what that revenue will be.
All of which brings me to my question. Future revenues are somewhat malleable, given that the Twins have the ability to set ticket prices wherever they want. Without getting into a discussion of supply vs. demand - i.e., would higher prices cause falling attendance and thereby negate revenue benefits - I ask:
Would you be willing to pay more to go to Twins games, if you knew that it would help the team keep players - in this case, like Hunter and Santana?
If you like, feel free to assume that this increase would be transparent. For example, assume that this increase would take the form of a $4 "competitive balance surcharge" added to your bleacher seat.