Hot Ticket Demand for Vikings Opener
Demand for tickets to attend Sunday night’s Vikings-Packers game at the new U.S. Bank Stadium is intense. Vikings executive Lester Bagley told Sports Headliners demand is greater than at any time in “the last 20 years including playoffs.”
Vikings fans consider the neighboring team from Wisconsin public enemy No. 1, with the Packers rivalry dating back to 1961. There is much anticipation about Sunday’s game because the two teams are the 2016 favorites to win the NFC North. There is also a frenzy to obtain tickets because Sunday will be the first-ever regular season NFL game in the $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium. The curiosity to see the facility helps fuel public interest to perhaps an all-time high for a Vikings game.
The secondary ticket market substantiates the demand for tickets. Multiple media reports this week have reported the average resale cost of a ticket at $424 or more. StubHub, for instance, has listed tickets for sale at $10,000. Pricing started at $203. The Vikings even sent out a news release earlier this week warning the public about counterfeit tickets.
Stadium capacity for football at U.S. Bank Stadium is 66,200. Knowledgeable sources agree the Vikings could sell 20,000 more tickets if they had availability—perhaps 30,000. Many additional tickets would be purchased by Packers fans from Wisconsin. The majority of attendees for Sunday’s game will be Vikings fans who are season ticket holders but if the stadium capacity were closer to 90,000 more Packers fans would be in the building.
By the way, the cost for a Vikings-Packers ticket at Met Stadium in 1975 was $9.50.
Gophers Ticket Sales, Other Notes
As of Tuesday, the Gophers had sold 22,807 football season tickets, according to an email from an athletic department spokesman. Those are season tickets that don’t include student sales and the figure represents a significant decline in season sales from last year’s total of 27,885.
Student season sales have also declined from 8,495 last year to 6,467 in 2016. Both the student and non-student totals could increase slightly with a small number of additional buyers, but the Gophers are already two games into their seven-game home schedule.
The declines were expected because of at least three key factors. Many seats at TCF Bank Stadium have increased in cost because of built-in donation fees attached to ticket prices (also labeled and reported as “scholarship seating fees”). Then, too, the Gophers had a disappointing 6-7 record last year (2-6 in the Big Ten), and last October head coach Jerry Kill—the face of the program and athletic department—resigned because of health issues.
The spokesman also reported that mens’ basketball non-student season tickets are down from 7,221 last year to 6,244 currently, while men’s hockey is at 6,043 after totaling 7,080 for the 2015-2016 season. Neither the basketball nor hockey 2016-2017 seasons have started, so the campaigns to sell additional tickets are ongoing.
The Vikings pay annual rent at U.S. Bank Stadium of $8.5 million, plus $1.5 million for capital improvements. Those amounts have an inflationary increase of three percent annually.
Forbes this week valued the Vikings franchise at $2.2 billion, an increase of 38 percent from just last year. An ownership group led by the Wilf family bought the team in 2005 for a reported $600 million. Forbes reports the average NFL valuation now is $2.34 billion.
The stadium’s five massive pivoting doors were closed for the first preseason game but open for the second. The glass doors—the tallest is 95 feet—help bring light into the facility and when open provide air and an outdoor feel for fans. The Vikings have authority up until 90 minutes prior to kickoff to decide about opening the doors. Vikings football decision makers, including head coach Mike Zimmer, determine the status of the doors.
Ultimately the storyline of the doors is likely to be similar to retractable roofs in stadiums like Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. A U.S. Bank Stadium source said the stadium in Indy has opened the roof for games less than a dozen times since the facility opened in 2008. Houston’s NRG Stadium has a similar story. Football teams prefer a climate controlled environment most of the time.
A U.S. Bank Stadium source refers to the building as an “event center” that has the Vikings as the primary tenant. Over 675 events have already been booked with more coming in daily. The Vikings annually play eight regular season games, two preseason games and potential playoff games in the building. The facility, which features a transparent roof on the south side, will host the 2017 X Games, 2018 Super Bowl and 2019 Final Four, and it has already been used for varied events ranging from business meetings (including an indoor picnic) to a wedding earlier this month. A youth football game was played on the synthetic turf last Sunday. Public rollerblading will be offered in the upper concourse of the stadium and more than 175 amateur baseball games are scheduled in 2017.
Concert seating capacity is about 50,000, with both Metallica and Luke Bryan having already done shows in the building. According to stadium sources, Metallica concert goers were 49 percent from outside Minnesota—an indication of the economic impact the venue can have on the city and region.
St. Thomas is ranked No. 4 nationally in the D3football.com poll, while Saint John’s is No. 8. The two teams play September 24 in Collegeville.