It seems that the Twins felt the need to kick in a little extra money for the new stadium.
"These are enhancements," [Twins owner Jerry] Bell said. "We wanted to upgrade certain aspects such as the stone, the canopy and the scoreboard, as well as add more bathrooms and comfort areas."
None of the work is required according to the original design. The extra money will pay for an even bigger (103' x 57') HD screen and fancier stone on the facade, among other things.
"These aren't [cost] overruns or overages," said Kevin Smith, Twins executive director of public affairs. "These are fan enhancements we want to add, so ownership is putting in an additional $22 million to cover the costs."
"Our feeling is we get one shot at this, let's do it right," Smith said. "It's enhancements to promote A) better fan amenities, and B) a ballpark that we can still be proud of years from now."
Wow, aren't they nice to spend all that extra money on the fans? Isn't it interesting that the amount they kicked in corresponds very closely to the amount they're under-spending on their stated payroll?
Because the improvements they're proposing with this extra money are basically cosmetic and superficial, this smells mostly like a PR move to me. Will it be enough to pacify fans outraged that Hunter and Santana were allowed to walk away? I don't know, but I think it's a necessary gesture. A lot of fans thought that the money the Twins are saving on payroll this year was going to line the Pohlads' pockets. Instead, it will be visibly invested in additional amenities for the fans. That should generate a fair amount of good will, even though the expenditures aren't, strictly speaking, necessary.
However, as far as I'm concerned, this doesn't let the Twins off the hook in terms of signing-bonus money for the high draft picks this summer. The Twins are set to get 3 of the top 31 picks (thanks to Hunter's flight to the Angels), and they need to make them count. They should still be able to afford a couple million dollars to ensure that they bring in the best available prospects with each pick.
But, in the meantime, it's good to see them aware of how their off-season moves have affected the fans. And it's good to see them willing to spend some money to appease them. I think it will turn out to be a good investment for the Twins.