MINNEAPOLIS — About once a month during the off-season, Michael Flynn and his cousin Nathan Harris drive downtown to visit the Target Field plaza, dreaming of better weather and Opening Day.
"Big Twins fans. I've got season tickets," Flynn said on Monday, standing outside an empty, snowy stadium. "We love to come out here on a summer day and watch the Twins, win or lose."
But the two cousins don't know when they'll get to step inside Target Field again.
As of Monday evening, Major League Baseball and the players' union remained deadlocked in the longest work stoppage since the cancellation of the 1994 World Series, with the two sides still failing to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. The ritual of Opening Day, as well as other games in the first month of the regular season, may be at risk, meaning Twins fans should prepare to potentially miss the March 31 season opener at the Chicago White Sox and the home opener on April 7 against the Seattle Mariners.
"I don't know why they can't just get a deal done and figure it out," Nathan Harris said.
His cousin Michael Flynn added: "The owners might be a little stingy, but at the end of the day, we just need a deal done."
It's the second time in three seasons the Twins may face a delayed start. In 2020, COVID forced the league to postpone games until late July; now, it's a labor dispute causing problems.
Tim Mahoney, owner of The Loon Café just a few blocks from Target Field, counts on Twins fans as a reliable source of revenue during the spring, summer and early fall.
"The ballpark is basically in our backyard. If they don't start on time... it's gonna leave a pretty sour taste in my mouth," Mahoney said. "We need the stadium to be shining. We need the players. We need the fans. We need everything. We need everything we can get because it's been a long, long, long strange trip and it just continues."
It's not all bad news in downtown Minneapolis. Live events have returned to venues like First Avenue, the Timberwolves are playing well and drawing strong crowds down the street at Target Center, and the NCAA Women's Final Four will be bringing thousands of fans to the city during the first weekend of April. (Also, fans in St. Paul should remember that the MLB work stoppage doesn't affect the minor leagues, so the St. Paul Saints will still play their scheduled home opener on April 12).
For businesses in Minneapolis, though, nothing compares to the money generated by 81 Twins' home games.
"Hopefully, they start sooner rather than later," Mahoney said. "But if this lingers until summer time, I don't know. I think a lot of people are just going to turn them off."
In the meantime, fans like Michael Flynn and Nathan Harris will just have to keep on dreaming of a season.
"I say, hopefully, we can figure this out," Flynn said, "and come back here April 7 to watch some baseball."