The Minnesota Twins are bolstering their hometown credentials and giving a big boost to the local economy as they settle into their new home at Target Field.
From the ground up, the team is eager to use its new stadium to demonstrate its Minnesota connections. The exterior itself is built from Kasota limestone from a quarry in the southern part of the state, while the scoreboard in the outfield was built in Redwood Falls. And that catcher parked behind the plate (in the top half of the inning at least) grew up in St. Paul.
However, the Minnesota-made products most likely to appeal to fans will be found at the concession stands. The organization recently made headlines by selecting Schweigert Meats to produce Target Field’s various hot dog options, yet these are only one of a number of local offerings. For those finding the average hot dog too banal, more exotic fare will be available from Kramarczuk’s. The NorthEast Minneapolis institution’s Eastern European-style sausages will be prepared in the restaurant’s kitchen and delivered to Target Field before each game. Its close proximity to the stadium allows the restaurant to be flexible and better cater to the Twins’ needs while remaining consistent in the quality of their product.
More eclectic dining options will also be on the menu at Target Field. One of the most notable is the steak sandwich made by Murray’s, the historic downtown Minneapolis steakhouse. In addition, the Loon Café will sell chili, and J.D. Hoyt’s will make its pork chop available. Both locally-owned restaurants are located near downtown Minneapolis.
By choosing businesses such as Kramarczuk’s or Murray’s, the organization avoids the tendency of professional sports teams to align themselves with national and international powerhouse brands. Instead, the Twins choose to promote the quality and viability of independent Minnesota business and provide an excellent platform for local brands to ply their wares. The team’s decision to go local makes a statement about the importance of independent businesses in Minnesota. And of course, they’re channeling money back into the local economy.
Businesses partnered with the team have already felt the impact of the Twins’ decision to buy local. Mike Gordienko, co-owner of Kramarczuk’s, says that since the partnership with the team was announced restaurant sales have increased in the neighborhood of ten to twenty percent and expects business will continue to grow once the regular season begins. He anticipates that the restaurant will need to add another two workers as a direct result of the deal.
Larger brands will benefit from more traditional sports sponsorship deals. Besides the deal with Schweigert sausages, part of the Cargill brand, Brooklyn Center’s Caribou Coffee has signed a multi-year deal with the club that will feature advertisements in the stadium and radio spots featuring Twins player Joe Nathan. Provided he stays healthy, all Nathan’s saves will be “fueled by Caribou.”
The Minnesota connection extends into adult beverages as well. The stadium will house “Twins Brews” stands, offering a selection of Minnesota beers. Chris Iles, corporate communications manager for the team, said that a final decision has not yet been made as to which beers will be available at the stadium. Both St. Paul’s Summit and New Ulm’s Grain Belt Premium were offered at the Metrodome. With so many quality brews, such as Schell’s (makers of the Grain Belt brand), Surly, and Rush River, the choice will not be easy. With the current trend moving toward craft microbrew beers and away from watered-down national brands, the Twins beer stands will give fans a great opportunity to sample some of the smaller, quality beers brewed in the state.
Iles acknowledged that the goal is to use the new stadium to support and promote local Minnesota-based companies as much as possible. With so much focus on the team as they move to the new stadium, the Twins have been in a unique position to provide a forum in which to highlight and promote Minnesota businesses. Gordienko is certainly pleased. He said the Twins’ strategy of choosing to deal with local businesses demonstrates their commitment to the community and speaks volumes of their dedication to the state.
The money Twins fans spend during a day out at the ballpark will give local business like Gordienko’s greater leverage to operate in the marketplace. That money will now be kept inside Minnesota and feed the local economy instead of getting funneled out to Fort Collins, Colorado or lining InBev’s coffers in Leuven, Belgium.
The Twin’s decision to highlight local businesses should serve as a model for other large organizations in the state to do the same. They have shown that it is not only feasible, but also advantageous to go local. In their support of Minnesota brands, the Twins have hit a home run.