Vikings fans successfully avoided having to pay for personal seat licenses to fund a portion of construction costs for the new Vikings stadium. Instead, they lobbied successfully to have Minneapolis taxpayers cover the cost with every package of diapers they buy, every beer drank downtown, and every electronic loser statewide.
For an example of a community with enough pride to not exploit gamblers to subsidize their NFL entertainment “needs” look at San Francisco where $360 million in PSLs have already been purchased to help cover their new stadium costs. 49ers fans are paying up to $80,000 per seat for PSLs.
If Vikings fans only had the same level of pride as 49ers fans, the state could have avoided exploiting gamblers to subsidize Zygi Wilf’s private business.
But, just because Vikings fans didn’t have enough pride to pay for a share of a new stadium through PSLs doesn’t mean PSLs have gone away. All this did was shift who’ll benefit from PSLs from the public (Minnesota and Minneapolis) to a private business owned by a guy in New Jersey. Great job, Vikings fans. You’ve socialized the costs in Minnesota while privatizing and outsourcing the profits.
Under the 49ers PSL deal, nearly every season ticket in the stadium requires a $2,000 PSL license to purchase. For example, Vikings superfan Larry Spooner would need to cough up $2,000 per seat to renew his season tickets if the Vikings take a similar approach to PSLs.
It’s not just PSLs that will increase. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution calculated, average ticket prices increased by 26% in new stadiums:
An examination by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of the three NFL stadiums built in the past five years shows that ticket prices jumped by an average of 26 percent in the season the stadiums opened, and that many fans paid thousands of dollars more in personal seat licenses merely for the right to buy tickets.
With this is mind, perhaps Cory Merrifield should work on firing up the fan base to oppose PSLs? With approximately $1 billion in construction and operating subsidies, hasn’t Zygi Wilf extracted enough from Minnesota already?
Think about the fan experience!
If long-time face painted loyal fans are priced out of the new stadium through PSLs and replaced with a bunch of suits, what will the fan experience be like? Granted, the suits may not have to interact with the face painters since Zygi Wilf is designing a stadium with private parking lots and private bathrooms for the suits, but the loyal fan to suits ratio will certain skew toward suits if PSL and ticket prices spike.
The Vikings are at 88% capacity at home this year (currently 3rd worst in the NFL ahead of St Louis and Tampa Bay.). Yes, that will go higher when Packer fans come to town, but will it go higher when Vikings fans are required to buy PSLs followed by much higher season ticket prices?
In August, the Vikings lowered the bar on how many fans needed to show up to games in order to call it a sellout for blackout criteria to 90% capacity. The Vikings decided that being 6,000 short of full is good enough. As a Vikings fan, do you think the fan experience is better in a full and affordable stadium, or with 55,000 people who can afford high ticket prices? The real money is in television (and teams have to share ticket revenues with the league), so as long as the lower deck looks relatively full, does it really matter to the Vikings whether there is a sellout?
If Vikings fans don’t act now, will the new stadium be filled with suits who never get out of their seats?
Will the new stadium need even more crowd noise pumped in?
Will upper deck seats get covered up like in Jacksonville?
Will tailgaters turn to railgating during games if they’re priced out of the stadium?
Will Zygi charge PSLs for tailgating lots?
These are issues Vikings season ticket holders may want to take up now rather than blindly waiting for sticker shock to arrive.
Here’s what I think will happen: Vikings fans will end up covering Zygi Wilf’s share of the stadium costs through Personal Seat Licenses, bringing the stadium construction cost split to:
State of Minnesota: $348 million (through gambling exploitation)
City of Minneapolis: $150 million + $375 million in maintenance costs (through taxes collected by local business owners to subsidize Zygi Wilf’s business and tax-free downtown property)
Vikings share: $477 million (offset with Personal Seat licenses sold to Vikings fans)
Zygi Wilf’s net share: whatever get can’t extract from fans through PSLs.