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Amazing what the revenues from a new ballpark will do

The Minnesota Twins say they'll keep payroll at 52 percent of revenues in coming years — and even with that restriction managed to sign Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184-million contract extension. Welcome to the Target Field era.

No calls the Minnesota Twins a small-market team any longer, after signing Joe Mauer to a Yankee-sized eight-year, $184-million contract extension. And that's due to the marked increase in revenues the Twins are expecting from their new home, Target Field.

The contract is roughly the same as the one signed by Mark Teixeira last year, a rich one even by Yankee standards. But it's one the Twins can fairly easily absorb given how their revenue situation will change in Target Field.

In the Metrodome, the Twins either shared or were locked out of many lucrative revenue streams; the suites were owned by the Minnesota Vikings, and concessions were run by the Metropolitan Sports Commission. The Twins controlled ad deals, but they were limited. 

In Target Field, the Twins will control everything: ad sales, gate revenues, surcharges for club seats, suite revenue, et al. It would be a shocker if the Twins didn't hit 3 million in attendance (15 games are already sold out), and this is being done with ticket revenues far exceeding those generated by the Metrodome.

Is Joe Mauer worth that kind of money? In Minnesota, absolutely. He's a winner, and he brings fans to the ballpark. He might not have been worth that kind of money to the Red Sox or Yankees (a good chunk of the salary will come after Mauer hits 31, the age where catchers traditionally decline mightily in terms of offensive production), but he's worth every bit of salary to the Twins. And this shows how something like a Target Field can drastically change the face of baseball in a community — a change Oakland and Tampa Bay are still eagerly seeking.

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