As of Tuesday, 6,500 tickets remained for the Vikings' next home game against Arizona (nine days from now). We presume more tickets have been sold since then (the next update is coming from the Vikings early next week). And the Vikings are in a decent position to sell more after Sunday -- a win is always nice, and a loss could provide the perfect time, both football-wise and PR-wise, to pull the plug on Donovan McNabb and put the rookie in there.
That said, it wouldn't at all be surprising to see the Vikings fail to sell out at some point this season. As we all know, it's a tough economy. Interest in the team remains, but it is not even close to the 2009 fever pitch. And let's not forget the greatest irony: the comfort of watching a game at home, with high-def, cheap snacks and drinks, has made some folks less inclined to go to a game.
A non-sellout, of course, would mean a local TV blackout -- which would be the first in this market since 1997, the year before Randy Moss arrived and changed everything. An entire generation, more or less, has no idea what it means to not have a Vikings home game televised.
In 1997, this is what it meant (per a Star Tribune story, when the UNDEFEATED Vikings [2-0] were blacked out against Tampa Bay):
To watch the game on TV, you will have to head north, back to the cabin; or south, to either corner of the state; or southwest, to a small sliver of towns along the South Dakota border. NFL rules stipulate that a game be blacked out within 75 miles when the home team has not sold out tickets at least 72 hours before game time. But the area affected by the blackout extends much farther, particularly to the west and south of the Twin Cities, because the blackout applies also to stations in Rochester and Mankato.
The 75-mile rule is still the same, according to this report. You might not think the inability to watch a presumably struggling Vikings team would be a detriment to folks in the Twin Cities, but we tend to think otherwise. There would be grousing, grumbling and maybe even pandemonium as all those high-def TVs were showing another random NFL game. People would be driving to Hinckley. The entitlement factor has increased exponentially in the past 14 years. If a blackout hits this season, we are prepared for the worst.