While the Minnesota Twins prepared to play the Cleveland Indians on a recent evening, a few hundred fans were getting ready for a night-long contest of their own -- a race to empty out the concession stands before they closed.
"I've done four hot dogs, three nachos, a pretzel, some popcorn and about four of these pops," said Charlie Romain, proudly treating himself to an early 22nd birthday feast.
High above third base, Sections 232 and 233 have been turned into all-you-can-eat seats for 10 Tuesdays this season. So far, about one-third of the 600 available tickets have been sold for each of the special nights.
In this season of recession, the Twins are just one of several ballclubs trying stuff-your-face promotions, the idea being to boost attendance, which is running more than 6 percent behind last year.
The clubs might not have counted on gluttonous fans like Jorge Retamal and Ron Benson, though. Their goal: make the home team lose money on the deal.
"I just like the idea that, because food is so expensive, I can come and, like, stick it to the system," Retamal said. "You know what I mean? I feel like I can even things out a little bit, just like baseball evens everything out."
For $34, up from the usual $22, customers can get a decent though distant view of the diamond and an unlimited amount of hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, soda and water during a 31/2-hour window that is sure to ruin any lingering New Year's resolutions.
Buddies Kyle Cash and Adam Petersen weren't too worried about the cost to their stomachs.
"We're just here to pig out," Cash said with a smile.
The Twins say they aren't too concerned about losing money on the really big eaters. Beer isn't included in the deal, for one thing. No waffle cone sundaes, either. And the all-you-can-grab grub ends at 9 p.m. no matter how many innings are left.
"Between the ticket and the food price, we're pretty well covered," team spokesman Chris Iles said. "It is a great deal for fans, though."
Two years ago, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles began offering all-you-can-eat seats.
The San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers also are among the teams offering stuff-your-face tickets.