The Minnesota Vikings are outperforming expectations off the field, if not on it.
Ticket sales for the new stadium are exceeding goals, and the team is adding suites to accommodate demand, according to information released Monday by the Vikings' front office.
"The response from Vikings fans since we began this process in March has been overwhelmingly positive," said Executive Vice President Steve LaCroix. "We expected a strong fan reaction, but this is a true testament of the passion and loyalty Vikings fans have for this team and the excitement they have for the new stadium."
The team reports selling 30,000 seat-builder licenses for the new $1.1 billion stadium. Three out of four seats require the purchase of licenses in the 65,400-seat facility, expected to open for the 2016 season. The strong ticket sales come amid a rocky season, with the team's initial starting quarterback and star running back sidelined with an injury and legal troubles, respectively. The Vikings are 6-9 after Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins.
The Vikings' fan base appears to be optimistic about the future. Ticket sales started nine months ago under the management of Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment. The team has raised $80 million of the overall goal of $125 million in seat licenses. Vikings executives say the goal was to raise $37 million this year. This is the first time such seat licenses have been sold in the Twin Cities market, although they are common at other new stadiums.
Team owner Zygi Wilf plans to use the stadium-builder money toward his share of the stadium cost. Van Wagner Vice President Jason Gonella says tickets are moving fast, but he still got in a pitch that the stadium has "a number of excellent seating opportunities available."
Those looking to slide into comfy high-end club seats are already out of luck. The most expensive stadium-builder seat licenses are sold out; those are the Field Club at $9,500 per license and the Valhalla Club at $7,000. Vikings Club seat licenses at $4,500 each are sold out.
The team has contacted all current season-ticket holders because they get priority for the new stadium, but that first chance expires at the end of the year. The next group to be contacted will be the 6,000 new season-ticket holders who bought seats at TCF Bank Stadium for the 2014 season, with the general public having access this spring.
Suites selling well
The team also announced strong suite sales to the point it's adding two new categories.
Suites don't require stadium-builder licenses, so they are not included in the $80 million total.
Early next year, the Vikings will offer 15 new 10-person Norseman Lounge Suites. The addition brings the new stadium's suite total to 131.
Gonella said 74 of the 108 suites up for sale have been sold at prices ranging from $110,000 to more than $300,000 for the 2016 season. (Suite-buyers must sign a four-year agreement.) Eight suites are reserved for owners, the administrators and others, so they are not for sale.
Five suite styles were initially offered: Loft, Turf, Valhalla, Norseman and Touchdown. Of the original suites, only Loft and Turf remain, Gonella said.
Fantasy football players will have another new premium seat option available in early 2015: Club Purple. These seats do not require licenses and will sell from about $250 to $800 per game with a four-year agreement required. These are all-inclusive seats akin to the Minnesota Twins' Champions Club at Target Field, with an endless supply of wine, beer and soda along with extensive buffets of food and preferred parking near the stadium.
Club Purple will offer unique content for mobile devices, 4k television displays, video gaming and media broadcast integration.
Stadium-builder licenses are valid only for Vikings games. The licenses were initially controversial when Wilf announced their introduction. Gov. Mark Dayton threatened to undo the stadium legislation because of the licenses and the proceeds going to Wilf.
Once purchased, the licenses are valid for 30 years.