The Turnaround Artist Jim Pohlad inherited a failing team-the Minnesota Twins--on the verge of disappearing from baseball. What saved it? Thinking like a small business.
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There's a buzz in the air in downtown Minneapolis on an overcast April afternoon. Baseball's Minnesota Twins are poised to play the Red Sox at Target Field in only the second regular-season game at the new ballpark. As fans file in, nearly all for the first time, their sense of anticipation is palpable. What they encounter is a strikingly original facility that features limestone-topped dugouts, a four-story, glass office tower with a roof deck where fans can watch the game from bar stools, even a shimmering wind-activated sculpture by artist Ned Kahn. "This is the best of the new ballparks in all of baseball," someone says, and he doesn't get an argument.
Look around, and it's hard to believe that just 10 years ago, the Twins were a financial failure, all but deserted by their fans and on the brink of disappearing from baseball. How they have become one of baseball's strongest franchises ranks among the more remarkable turnaround stories in recent business history. And it only happened because the owners were determined to run their big league sports team like a smart small business.