Lester Bagley, Vikings executive vice president of public affairs and stadium development, didn’t mince words when it comes to the price and exclusivity of Super Bowl tickets.
“We haven’t gotten the final pricing, but we know the NFL takes over the stadium, and takes over the pricing,” Bagley said. “It’s going to be some sticker shock for sure for our market. Tickets are going to be hard to come by in terms of access, because the league takes them. They’re going to be sticker shock on prices. But it’s part of the deal when you get the Super Bowl.
“You get 100,000 coming into your market that support the game. Over the 10 days we’ll have 1 million people come to the market. But just for the four-day weekend for the game, we’ll get 100,000 people here. It’s a lot of the top NFL sponsors and all of teams, all 32 NFL teams are represented and the media. It’s a big production. Tickets are going to be a challenge, for sure.”
The NFL will put 65,000 seats or so into U.S. Bank Stadium for the game in February 2018. But it’s one of the great disappointments for one of the biggest sporting events in the world that regular fans typically are priced out of attending.
Bagley talked about the costs for an average ticket at this year’s Super Bowl in Houston.
“To get into the lower bowl it was approximately $2,000, give or take,” he said. “That’s a lower-level seat. I think in the upper deck you could get there for $1,000. Those are prices from Houston, but the Minnesota ticket prices haven’t been set.”
Even though ticket prices haven’t been released, scalpers are already listing tickets on the secondary market. This week SeatGeek’s lowest ticket price was $2,600 for an upper-level end zone ticket.
In Houston, TicketCity kept track of the median ticket price on the secondary market. In early January, it was just above $6,000. By Jan. 31, right before the game, it had dropped by half to a still-drastic $3,000.
So there’s no question that getting to the game is going to be a challenge for local NFL fans.
Making plans and room
Bagley reported that this past week a number of NFL executives were in town working with Maureen Bausch, the chief executive of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, and other members of the executive committee on early logistics.
“The NFL is in town. Peter O’Reilly, who is the senior VP of events, he runs the Super Bowl for the NFL, he’s in town,” Bagley said. “The Vikings will be part of it. But the host committee and a bunch of the venues, it’s kind of their major planning meeting as they settle on all the venues for the events and the campus, what does the campus look like around the stadium, and some of the logistical issues like transportation. They’re really starting to zero in on what the Super Bowl is going to look like in Minneapolis/St. Paul/Bloomington for February 2018.”
One of the big issues is squeezing extra seats into the stadium. It used to be that whatever stadium hosted the Super Bowl had to have 70,000 seats, but the NFL has backed off that demand — opening the game to more venues.
Still, the Vikings know they are going to need to make as much room as possible while not changing their stadium in a drastic manner.
“They’re still working with the NFL on seating of what’s the final count, the final manifest, how many seats, how many tickets they will sell,” Bagley said. “The NFL is working on it right now with [stadium management company] SMG with the stadium and the stadium authority with how best to fit the Super Bowl and the number of seats.
“It’s not finalized yet, but we’ve got seats that the MSFA [Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority] has, they have extra seats to put in. All of the stadium seats are on rails, so for the Super Bowl you can tighten the rails together and add a seat to each row. So that’s one of the things we’re looking at and one of the things we’re working with the authority and the NFL on. No final decisions on the final number of tickets, but it’s going to probably be close to 65,000, maybe less.”
National media incoming
It’s not clear what tickets will cost or exactly how many will be sold, but the team has a firmer count on how many national media members will here for the Super Bowl.
“We’re expecting 5,000-plus,” Bagley said. “One of the things we think Minnesota will excel in is when the media comes: They’re going to be put up at the Mall of America, that will be the media center. And then opening night, it used to be media night, but now it’s Monday night of Super Bowl week, that’s when the two teams come to town. That will be at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and we think there’s probably 10,000-plus that will come to that, just to be part of that.
“It used to be just the teams and the media, and now it’s expanded to fans, so there’s going to be a lot of media here.”
• Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was asked to sum up the battle for Chad Greenway’s former weak-side linebacker position. “We’re going to look at all of the guys in there,” Zimmer said, before pointing to a 2015 seventh-round pick. “Edmond [Robinson] has had a couple of good days here in the last couple of days. I think he’s feeling more comfortable with it. We’ll just see. I’m not opposed to one of these younger guys if they end up being the guy.”
• Little has been said about German wide receiver Moritz Böhringer, who was drafted in the sixth round last year and spent 2016 on the practice squad. According to fellow receiver Adam Thielen, Böhringer is showing improvement. “Mo has done a great job,” Thielen said. “He has worked his tail off and asking tons of questions, trying whatever he can to be the best player he can be.”
• Cornerback Xavier Rhodes said of going against Thielen in practice: “He’s a technician. If Thielen is told to run 9 yards, he’s going to run exactly 9 yards in and out of his break. He comes out of his break pretty well. He can move his weight pretty well. With Thielen, if the ball is in the air, he’s going to catch it with one hand, one finger, it doesn’t matter. He’s going to find a way to get the ball. Thielen is great to go against.”
• Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck was asked, after three months on the job, if he has any doubts he can win here. “Absolutely we can win here,” he said. “Not only can we win here, we can win championships here. I really mean that wholeheartedly. We don’t just want to win here, we want to win championships. We don’t want to talk about good seasons and we had this many wins and count wins, let’s in the future — I can’t promise it this year or the next year or the next year … but it will happen that this will become a championship program.”
• D1 Circuit, which covers AAU basketball around the country, named Apple Valley’s Tre Jones its offensive player of the year for the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League after he averaged 19.3 points, 8.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. Howard Pulley tied for the league’s best record at 15-3.