I cried while driving home from the Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday.
It may not be for the reasons you think. Yes, I was very sad about the loss. And yes, I was very sad for Blair Walsh — one of the nicest players I’ve ever met, and who does so much for kids in our community — to think that he feels responsible, but I know he shouldn’t, because there were so many other mistakes made. And, yes, I was very sad that I had to walk by that obnoxious Seattle Seahawks fan two rows behind me who was yelling horrible obscenities (surrounded by young Vikings fans) throughout the entire game and know that he got his glory.
But none of these was the reason I cried. It was because Sunday’s playoff loss was a very sad way to end my family’s 54-year legacy.
I don’t stand to inherit anything — no property nor fortunes. But what I did have was the legacy of original season-ticket holders: my grandparents. My grandparents were Vikings fans from day one. In 1961, when they bought their first season tickets, our family knew, even back then long before I was born, that this would be something that would stay with our family forever.
Our family was and is the definition of true Vikings fans. My feet stayed warm on Sunday because my grandmother taught me to bring a stack of newspapers to stand on during the really cold games. My grandfather taught me that the way to really experience Vikings games was to bring your headphones, so you could listen to the great radio announcers (on Sunday, it was Paul Allen) calling the play-by-play. I was dressed from head to toe in multiple layers, and the pain I felt during and after the game had nothing to do with the cold.
I took over the ownership of these season tickets from my grandparents 15 years ago, when they could no longer safely navigate the stairs of the Metrodome. I vowed that these tickets would always be a part of our family. Someday, I would pass them on to my boys. We have enjoyed every moment of the last 15 years. We’ve cheered and we’ve cried with every great moment of Vikings celebration and despair. But on Sunday, we said goodbye.
I participated in every focus group and survey for season-ticket holders that the Vikings offered. I and many others begged them not to impose the seat license fees they were proposing for the new stadium opening this fall. Because of the seniority from my family’s ticket tenure, I was in groups with people with the most expensive and longest-held season tickets available. Original season-ticket holders, legacies to older relatives, small-business owners — unanimously, we declared we would all have to let our seats go. No one would be able to afford what the team was proposing.
How can I justify, with one son in college and one about to go, paying a “stadium-builder” license fee of $10,800? That, combined with my seats going up to $150 each, times four seats, times 10 games — plus parking, food and beverages. Basically, that comes down to a $10,800 deposit plus about $800 per week to watch my Vikings. To watch football. I am a physician, and we are a two-income family. But there is no way we can justify that expense.
My tears today are for my grandparents. For my family. For the many other true Vikings fans who will never watch another game from anywhere other than their living rooms. I am sad that the Helga-braid-wearing, face-painting, “Skol, Vikings”-cheering fans may be a thing of the past. Will the corporate attendees and their out-of-town guests be willing to uphold this expected and counted on fan etiquette?
I had to let our season tickets go. I bought a Vikings Legacy Brick in memory of my grandparents. This helps me feel better, knowing they will forever be a part of Vikings history. I hope someday that this multibillion-dollar industry will come to understand the plight of the “little people,” the true fans.
Dr. Joanna Perkins, of Apple Valley, is a pediatric oncologist.