Fans in every NFL city are fretting over whether or not there will be football in the fall as players and owners try to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement. The fans of the Minnesota Vikings have even an even bigger worry weighing on their minds: Where will the Vikings be when the next CBA expires?
The Vikings announced this week they would not raise ticket prices for 2011. But, that bit of news came and went with little reaction thanks to the impending lockout as well as by the sting leftover from the Vikings’ 2010 season and their uncertain future in Minnesota, where the Vikings want a new stadium to replace the Metrodome.
According to the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis, Vikings season tickets for next year will continue to range from $29 to $128 per game. This is the second time in three years the Vikings didn’t raise prices; they hiked tickets an average of 3 percent after reaching the NFC Championship Game in 2009.
Ticket King director of operations Cortney Storsved told TicketNews she sensed interest in Vikings’ tickets for 2011 would be impacted less by the price freeze than by the memories of last season as well as concern over the team’s stadium situation. Ticket King, one of Minnesota’s leading ticket brokers, does brisk business each year with Vikings tickets.
“I think the sales will be more based on their performance this past year and whether or not they get a new stadium as opposed to the [no] change in prices on season tickets,” Storsved said. “There hasn’t been a lot of discussion about it here. I think people are more concerned with whether or not they’re going to get a new stadium.”
The Vikings endured a turbulent 2010 and the rocky ride isn’t over yet. Instead of contending for the Super Bowl as expected, the Vikings went 6-10 and finished last in the NFC North. Iconic and seemingly indestructible quarterback Brett Favre turned old and injury-prone in a hurry; head coach Brad Childress was fired after a 3-7 start; and the Vikings became the Charlie Brown of the league: Tracked everywhere by storm clouds that, in their case, dumped massive amounts of snow wherever they were supposed to play.
The Vikings’ final two home games at the Metrodome were moved to Ford Field in Detroit and TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota, respectively, after the Metrodome roof collapsed during a blizzard in the early hours of Sunday, December 12. And, their penultimate game of the season was moved from Sunday, December 26 to Tuesday, December 28 when a blizzard hit Philadelphia.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns and operates the Metrodome, voted Thursday, February 10, to install a new roof on the Metrodome. The Commission plans to find a contractor by Friday, February 25 so that construction on the roof — which will reportedly cost $19 million — can be completed by August 1, shortly before the preseason begins.
The roof, as expensive as it is, may end up being the shortest of short-term solutions for the Vikings. Their lease at the Metrodome runs out at the end of the 2011 season and the Vikings have no interest in remaining in the facility.
As a result, the Vikings are one of the teams most mentioned as a possibility to move to Los Angeles if that city — which has not fielded an NFL team since the Rams moved to St. Louis following the 1995 season — ever gets a new stadium. Entertainment giant AEG, one of the two groups trying to drum up financing for a stadium, announced earlier this month it had reached a 30-year, $700 million naming rights agreement with Farmers Insurance Exchange that would go into effect if AEG is able to build a facility near AEG properties Staples Center and LA Live.
In Minnesota, meanwhile, officials in Ramsey County — a suburb of Minneapolis — are interested in meeting with the Vikings and studying whether or not the former Twin City Army Ammunitions Plant, located in Arden Hills, is a feasible location for a new Vikings stadium. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said prior to the Vikings’ game at TCF Bank Stadium that he would rather build an outdoor stadium and that such a facility would cost at least $200 million less than a domed building.