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New Falcons stadium: $2 hot dogs, $5 beers, pricey seats. How do Vikings compare?

usbankstadiumThe new Atlanta stadium slated to open in 2017 — with multiple tenants, including the Falcons as the primary one — generated some positive press last week with the announcement of reasonable prices for many food and drink items. Indeed, in comparisons to other arenas the prices are downright cheap. Per a news release, these prices will be in effect for all events at the stadium in 2017, including Falcons games:

$2: Non-alcoholic beverage products with unlimited free refills; Dasani bottled water; hot dogs; pretzels; popcorn

$3: Peanuts; pizza; nachos; waffle fries

$5: 12 oz. domestic beer

Compare that to NFL stadium averages: $4.70 for a soft drink, $5.40 for a hot dog and $7.50 for a beer. One of each of those at an average NFL game would cost almost $18. At a Falcons game, it would be $9 — half that price.

It made me curious what the price points will be at U.S. Bank Stadium — and whether the Vikings are considering any similar deals.

With that stadium set to open in a couple months while Atlanta’s is a year away, I was a little surprised to find out that prices haven’t been set yet. That was confirmed by both the Vikings and Michele Kelm-Helgen, the chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission.

“Our prices are still being finalized, but they’ll be competitive with other venues in the region,” Kelm-Helgen said in response to my query. “Our goal is to create a world-class dining program that enhances the overall stadium experience; this takes into account several factors such as menu variety, food quality and customer service.” Fair enough, and it’s worth noting Atlanta will surely have plenty of higher-end, more expensive specialty items in line with the options unveiled by the Vikings this week (also without prices). But it’s also worth noting that if the Vikings’ prices are “competitive with other venues in the region” they will not be cheap. Let’s focus on beer for a moment: If we’re talking other NFL teams, a small beer at a Bears game is $9.25 and at a Packers game is $7.75. If we’re talking other major sports teams in the Twin Cities, a small beer at Target Field for a Twins game is $7.50; a 20-ounce beer at a Wild game in 2014-15 was $9.50 – same as it was at a Wolves game last year, according to Statista.com. So Falcons fans will come out ahead there, and the team gets some nice press as a result. The flip side is that while a Falcons fan will presumably save on a hot dog and a beer compared to a Vikings fan, Atlanta is also harvesting a lot more front-end money from seat licenses — the one-time fee you pay before you can buy your season tickets — than your local NFL franchise. As of November, the Falcons had brought in $140 million from PSLs, with more yet to sell. Their most expensive license is $45,000. The Vikings, in contrast, were slated to get $100 million total from that source — with $9,500 being the highest-priced license. It’s all a matter of choosing which pocket from which you’d rather have the money taken.

Wild fundraiser for Alberta fires: big crowd, good cause

It’s startling enough to see images of the fires that have raged through Alberta for the past month, roaring through towns and displacing thousands of Canadians from their homes.

Hearing a first-hand account of just what that devastation has wrought brings the nightmare to a whole different level — and a personal one for members of the Minnesota Wild.

wildspurgeonDanielle Spurgeon (pictured), wife of Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, said her parents were forced from their home in Edmonton as a result of a fire that raged during an extraordinarily dry spring in the province.

Their loss — and the losses of those around them in Fort McMurray — provided the impetus for a fundraiser Thursday to help those affected by the fires.

Jared Spurgeon and five Wild teammates — Erik Haula, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser and Jason Zucker — signed autographs at BMO Harris Bank in Edina, raising money for the Red Cross to support victims of the fires.

Danielle Spurgeon, the chief organizer of the event, was heartened by both the turnout and the willingness of her husband’s teammates to help out. Her parents, Colette and Norm LaRose, moved in temporarily with Danielle and Jared — a transition that was smooth but still difficult.

“When you walk inside (the house) and see all the destruction, that’s the really hard part,” she said. “Seeing that is what sparked this. I thought if my family had a lot of immediate help and it’s still really hard, it made me think of all the people who maybe didn’t have that help.”

Said Jared Spurgeon: “We’re fortunate enough that we can do something about it.”

The event was a hit with Wild fans and collectors, who were able to get six autographs — including a coveted one from Parise — for a $50 donation. The first 300 people in line were guaranteed autographs, meaning the event alone was slated to net a $15,000 donation.

wild2Alex Rand (pictured, no relation to the author) was the first person to go through the line when doors opened shortly after 3 p.m., and he earned it.

Rand, a memorabilia collector, drove an hour from Zimmerman and arrived to stake out his spot at 9 a.m. — six hours before the event began — after he heard that other collectors were planning to arrive three or four hours early.

“I’m so happy they want to support this,” Danielle Spurgeon said.

Rand said he considered the $50 price a “great deal” and bought a new jersey specifically to have it signed at the event.

wildpariseOthers moved through the line and chatted with players. Parise was in his element making small talk with a fan in a North Dakota jersey (his former school) and a family with twins (he, too, is a father of twins).

“It seems like (the fires) are affecting a lot of communities,” Parise said, noting the hockey world has been hit hard. “It’s good to help out as much as we can.”