The Vikings finish their regular season at home vs. the Chicago Bears on Sunday, and a victory would guarantee they clinch the NFC’s No. 2 seed for the playoffs.
As the likelihood of a deep Vikings playoff run gets more likely each week, the planning for the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium takes on new intrigue for the team’s front office.
While the team will hand over all control of the building to the NFL for the Super Bowl itself, the stadium remains under team control throughout the conference playoffs.
Vikings Executive Vice President Lester Bagley talked about the situation the Vikings find themselves in going forward.
“It would be great for us. It’s going to be a logistical challenge for the NFL because not only has there been no NFL team playing in their own Super Bowl in their own stadium, as is well-known, but no NFL team has hosted an NFC Championship Game or divisional round playoff game,” Bagley said, noting that last year the Houston Texans played host to a wild-card game before the Super Bowl was held at their stadium, but that was it. “The closer you get, the harder it is going to be logistically.
“It has been reported that this is one of the most complicated and complex Super Bowl campuses there is just because we have the most urban stadium in the NFL. It is right downtown, right at the edge of downtown, and the NFL is working overtime to solve these logistical issues. They need access, need to control the building, but we’re doing everything we can to be that first team [to host a Super Bowl at their home stadium].”
And while Bagley said that most of the headache would fall on the NFL to organize that kind of situation, he did say that while the Vikings staff is taking the season one week at a time, they know that a long playoff run would only amplify the Super Bowl buildup for the team and the city.
“There is a lot of things we have going for the Super Bowl, no matter who is in the game,” he said. “But certainly if we’re in the game or fortunate enough to be there, it is going to be a lot more intense. It’s going to be tremendous for our community, regardless, but an outstanding experience if we can get there. But let’s keep it focused one week at a time if we can right now.”
Scarcity of tickets an issue
Bagley said that last year Super Bowl tickets in Houston ranged from the cheapest upper-level ticket at around $900 for face value to around $2,000 for the cheapest lower-level ticket. The secondary market moves those prices much, much higher.
He said that the only way the Vikings and their fans can get more tickets is if the Vikings reach the big game.
“Right now, the Vikings are one of 32 teams that get a small percentage of tickets, and right now we really don’t have even enough to satisfy our contractual obligations with partners and sponsors,” he said. “We’re even in the market to try to purchase and acquire more tickets. But if the Vikings are in the Super Bowl … there will be a larger number, and that’s what we’re hoping for.
“Because then we can get our fans — if you’re a season-ticket holder and the Vikings are in the Super Bowl, then there’s a lottery, so there will be a certain percentage of our season-ticket holders who will get a shot of purchasing tickets at face value.”
The NFL has announced that face value ticket prices are going to be similar to what they were last year, but that doesn’t change the fact that tickets will be scarce, and if the Vikings reach the game the demand is going to be astronomical.
The great news for the Vikings is that local interest in the Super Bowl was already high before the team turned into a real contender.
Bagley pointed out that when the Super Bowl Opening Night was announced at Xcel Energy Center, there was a rush on tickets for the Jan. 29 event. That has been constant for all things related to the Super Bowl.
“That’s what we told the NFL all along from Day 1 when we pitched the Super Bowl, there is tremendous energy, great local energy at the fan and grass roots level,” he said. “The two things so far that have been offered up to our local public are the volunteer role and the opening night and volunteers. We needed 10,000 volunteers and we had 30,000 people apply.
“We think that will carry through to Super Bowl Live and Super Bowl Boulevard [on] Nicollet Avenue. There will be all kinds of indoor and outdoor spaces, winter events, that’s going to be the hub of activity. We think, again based on great local energy that we have seen on these responses, that we’re going to have a great event and great showing for the NFL. It’s a great showcase for our community and for our state. We’re excited about what this is going to mean in the big picture for our committee.”
• ESPN ran its first 2018 NFL mock draft and had the Vikings selecting Martinas Rankin, a tackle out of Mississippi State, with the No. 29 overall pick. “There aren’t many glaring holes on this team,” Todd McShay wrote, “but Minnesota could still use reinforcements on the offensive line.”
• It’s amazing to think that there has never been a 12-month stretch in Minnesota history when all four men’s pro sports teams made the playoffs. With the Twins reaching the AL wild-card game, the Vikings clinching the NFC North, the Timberwolves looking like a lock for a spot in the Western Conference and the Wild in the playoff hunt, it might just happen this year. On top of that, the Lynx won the WNBA title for the fourth time in September.
• Latavius Murray on teaming with Jerick McKinnon to power the Vikings running game: “He’s a great teammate. I think it has been a lot of fun. We’re still continuing to get better and I think that is the great part about that. We try to complement each other and make each other better. As long as we have that going, we’re only going to be better individuals and better players. But for this team we want to be the best that we can. That’s that 1-2 punch and that’s what we want.”
• The Wolves’ 82 percent attendance for home games is a big jump from 76.5 percent in 2016-17, but it still ranks 29th out of 30 NBA teams, ahead of only Atlanta’s 75.4. Interestingly, the Pistons are 28th at 82.5 percent despite a new arena in Detroit and a winning record.
• The Vikings have over $41 million in salary coming off the cap after this season with the largest drop being Sam Bradford’s $18 million. Spotrac.com projects that the team will have more than $60 million in cap space heading into the 2018 season.
• Rivals.com rates Quinn Carroll, the 6-6, 280-pound tackle out of Edina, as the nation’s No. 30 high school prospect for 2019. He is being recruited hard by the Gophers and has offers from major schools all over the country.