For the second straight season, the American Association has named the St. Paul Saints its organization of the year.
The Saints excelled at the box office employing creative promotions, access and affordability, and success on the diamond, to help claim the league’s top honor. The Saints had their first ever rainout at CHS Field, but despite having one fewer opening, the club drew more fans in 2016 than in their inaugural season in Lowertown, breaking the record in their second-to-last home game. Overall, the Saints drew 413,482 over 49 dates, an average of 8,438, a more than 2% increase in overall attendance and a more than 4% increase in average attendance. The Saints drew more than the 7,210 capacity in 47 of 49 home games and had a franchise record 10,443 on May 29. There were 8,000 or more fans at 37 of 49 games and more than 9,000 on 10 occasions.
“We are so appreciative of this recognition and truly honored to have been selected by our league partners,” said Derek Sharrer, Saints Executive Vice President and General Manager. “Year two at CHS Field was magical. From the emotion of the Purple Game, to the energy surrounding the All-Star events, to excitement of the playoff chase, the fans of St. Paul and the Greater Twin Cities area couldn’t have been more engaged and supportive.”
Of the more than 350 teams in minor league baseball (affiliated and independent leagues) only 24 drew more fans this season than the Saints. All of the teams that outdrew the Saints are in affiliated ball and had at least 15 more openings than the Saints. Only six teams averaged more than the 8,457 fans the Saints attracted this season, with all of them operating at the Triple-A level. The Saints 117% capacity was tops in all of minor league baseball.
The Saints put together a highly successful American Association All-Star Game with two days worth of events, culminating in the game on August 2. All-Star Monday, on August 1, allowed the players and executives to take a tour of U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings brand new home. At CHS Field that night celebrity, music and power were on display. The All-Star Monday festivities kicked off with a celebrity softball game with local media members, Wild players and former Saints players. The Chris Hawkey band rocked out on stage and then the big event for the All-Stars took place: The Home Run Derby. The festivities concluded with an hour show by Minnesota’s own Soul Asylum.
More than 8,000 fans packed CHS Field for the American Association All-Star Game, televised on Fox Sports North Plus, with approximately 28 scouts in attendance. The game, and two-day celebration, was widely praised by players and executives for the professional and fun manner in which the Saints handled the league’s biggest event.
The Saints once again provided fans with entertainment that gained local and national attention. From the very emotional Purple Game, honoring the passing of Prince, to setting a Guinness Book of World Record for most people doing squats at one event, with Squat-A-Lot-Athon, to national attention with the very hilarious Unwritten Rulebook, the Saints continued to amuse their fans with fun.
CHS Field continued to be the talk of St. Paul and the league. The ballpark has played host to nearly 200 events to date in 2016 including numerous high school regular season games, the Minnesota State High School Baseball Tournament, American Legion games, and municipal amateur baseball games. As part of the team’s commitment to amateur baseball each St. Paul high school was provided with the opportunity to play a game at CHS Field free of charge. In addition, there were festivals, concerts, and faith based events including a youth Catholic mass which saw over 12,000 in attendance. For the second consecutive year the popular Cat Video Festival returned to CHS Field with more than 10,000 cat lovers in attendance. The ballparks indoor event space, the Securian Club, hosted even more events than in 2015 including civic events, corporate events, weddings and wedding receptions, Bar Mitzvah’s, and seminars.
On the field the Saints claimed their second consecutive North Division title, finishing 61-39, had five mid-season All-Stars and two post-season All-Stars, outfielder Alonzo Harris and Relief Pitcher of the Year, Ryan Rodebaugh. The Saints spent all, but one day in first place and over the last two years are an incredible 135-65 and have spent 219 of 220 days in first place. In addition, three pitchers had their contracts purchased by a Major League Organization: John Straka (Toronto), Eric Veglahn (Toronto), and Dan Johnson (L.A. Dodgers).
This is the second time the Saints have earned the American Association Organization of the Year in the league’s 11-year history.