No one should be surprised by Vikings seat licenses

  • Article by: EDITORIAL , St. Cloud Times
  • Updated: October 16, 2013 - 7:05 PM

NFL teams will always maximize revenue from new stadiums, meaning fans will pay more.

First, the obvious joke: If Minnesota Vikings fans are going to need licenses for their new stadium seats, what license do the Vikings need to be allowed to play on an NFL field after Sunday’s miserable loss to Carolina?

At times, it sure looked like the team lacked even a learner’s permit, much less a license.

That said, the issue today isn’t (another) subpar Vikings season. Rather, it’s looking ahead to 2016, when the Vikings open their new stadium, complete with charging “personal seat licenses” for 48,000 of the 65,000 seats. The team recently announced PSLs will cost from $3,000 to $10,000 each.

While many fans and even a few politicians claim outrage, the PSL details simply reiterate some points all Minnesotans have known for months, even years and decades.

First, neither the Vikings’ PSLs nor the accompanying prices are a surprise. Officially known as stadium builders licenses for the Vikings, the concept was thoroughly discussed in 2011 legislative hearings and ultimately was part of the $975 million stadium deal that legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton approved.

In fact, according to most news reports, the prices announced earlier this month actually put the Vikings’ PSLs in the middle of 17 teams that sell them. While the $10,000 level is fifth-highest, it’s far short of $150,000 for a seat in Dallas and $80,000 in San Francisco.

Second, make no mistake: The PSLs are another way for owner Zygi Wilf’s family to cover their share of expenses. Taxpayers already are covering about $498 million. These PSLs are expected to generate $150 million. Still to be announced is a naming-rights deal, which experts project could yield $120 million. Finally, the NFL is set to loan the Vikings $200 million, which, according to an Minnesota Public Radio report, is repaid through revenue the Vikings get by selling “premium visitor seats.”

Add those up, and it appears the Wilfs might have to tap less than $10 million of their own funds to cover the Vikings’ share of the stadium. Ultimately, though, the real message behind the Vikings’ PSLs is that attending NFL games is becoming more and more unaffordable for average Minnesotans. From the $5 pretzels to $20 parking to $7 beers, it’s easy to see how the average NFL gameday experience costs each fan more than $100, according to Team Marketing Research.

And starting in 2016, PSLs will add even more to that cost for Vikings fans.

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