Personal seat licenses will raise $100 million for new Vikings stadium

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 8, 2014 - 8:17 AM

The seat licenses for the new stadium will cost fans from $500 to $9,500 each.

Minnesota Vikings fans will pay $500 to $9,500 per seat in the team’s new $1 billion stadium, set to open in 2016. That will be in addition to ticket prices that will run between $50 and $400 per game for season-ticket holders.

The personal seat licenses in the so-called stadium-builder license program are expected to net $100 million. That revenue will count as part of owner Zygi Wilf’s contribution to the construction.

The Vikings soon will begin contacting season-ticket holders — according to their Metrodome seat locations — to persuade them to buy the personal seat licenses.

The sale of such seat licenses is a first for the Vikings and was a flash point in the stadium saga. When the team announced the licensing plans, Gov. Mark Dayton threatened to seek a repeal of the stadium legislation altogether. However, at Friday’s media briefing, all was copacetic, including with Michele Kelm-Helgen, Dayton’s appointee to lead the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority.

Kelm-Helgen pointed out that the team is responsible for the license program. If sales fail to produce the necessary $100 million, she said, the state has “ironclad agreements” that require the Vikings to make up the difference.

Almost two years ago, the Legislature agreed to spend $498 million in public financing for the project. Ground was broken in December, and last month the Metrodome demolition accelerated with the deflation of the roof.

Steve LaCroix, team vice president of sales and marketing, said the team worked to be “very fair” and “as reasonable as we could” in developing a seat license plan that “truly fits Minnesota.” What the Vikings expect to raise through licensing falls in the middle of what other teams have raised. According to Vikings data, the Dallas Cowboys opened a new stadium in 2009 and raised $651 million, adjusted for inflation, through seat licenses. The San Francisco 49ers raised $500 million in adjusted dollars in 2014.

Of the 65,400 seats in the Vikings’ new stadium, 75 percent will require game-goers to purchase seat licenses before they buy tickets. The Vikings will offer payment plans, including one that gives buyers eight years to pay for the licenses. Once paid, the license holder will retain seat rights throughout the team’s 30-year lease — provided they keep buying season tickets.

The licenses will be transferrable, so that those who buy them also can sell them.

A range of prices

Kelm-Helgen stressed the relative affordability of the licenses. The average license will sell for $2,500, and 2,300 licenses will be set aside to sell for $500 apiece. About 80 percent of the seat licenses will sell for $3,000 or less.

The priciest seats will be on the lowest level: $9,500 for the license and a per-game ticket of $400. For the eight home games, that would be a total cost of $12,700 per seat for the first season.

Seats at that price will come with what fans may consider a priceless proximity: Those seated at the 50-yard line will be close enough to high-five Vikings players coming onto the field. For those 50-yard line seats, the field is the front porch, said Jason Gonella, executive director of new stadium sales for Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, the company hired by the team to sell the seats.

There will be many more club seats in the new stadium — 8,000, compared with 243 at the Metrodome. Those licenses will range from $3,500 to $9,500.

In the cheap seats, at the uppermost reaches of the stadium, seat licenses will sell for $500 each, with game tickets going for $50 a pop.

One-fourth of the stadium — 12,000 seats — will not require licenses in order to buy tickets. Also, the 116 suites planned for corporate types will not be covered by the licenses.

Selling the ‘fan experience’

Team officials talked repeatedly about how different the “fan experience” will be. LaCroix said fans will not have to give up the “comforts of home” to attend the game.

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