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September 6, 2007

Viking game blackout

Before I begin let me just say two things: 1) it is absolutely shameful that the Viking home opener is not sold out. This is the home opener! Even if the Vikings had gone 0-16 last year, there is no excuse for not selling out the home opener. None. And 2) The fact that the Packers sell out every game, regardless of record, weather, player personalities, being in the smallest market, etc. is very, very respectable. Quite frankly it is amazing and difficult to explain. The Packers have great fans and that is all there is to it.

That brings me to the main question: Does the fact that the Vikings game might be blacked out on TV this Sunday, for the home opener, mean that the Vikings do not have good fans?

First of all, doing a little bit of research, I have found at least 5 teams that have dealt with blackout possibilities this season, whether it is pre-season or for the home opener. The teams are St. Louis, Jacksonville, Detroit, San Diego, and Oakland. These seem to be the teams we would expect ... kind of. St. Louis plays in a crappy dome like the Vikings. Jacksonville is a really small market without much to cheer for. Detroit ... well they suck and they always will suck it seems. I have always thought it is hard work being a Vikings fan, but being a Detroit fan? That must be flat out painful and depressing.

The two teams that leave me scratching my head as much as the Vikings are San Diego and Oakland. Like the Vikings, San Diego also has a bad stadium situation (which the team has beat over the head of the public for years), but a pretty decent team to cheer for. And Oakland has a reputation for having great and very loyal fans, but they also have a crazy owner and a mediocre team.

I guess I point these other teams out to say that Vikings fans aren't alone in being faced with potential blackouts (although I believe most of these teams have achieved a sell-out). They also demonstrate a number of reasons why the Vkings may not be selling out their game. They are:

These are all good reasons people might be staying away. In fact, most people probably are using a couple of these reasons in tandem to justify their absence from the game. For example, someone might say, "I won't go because I can't afford a ticket, the Vikings stink, and I don't want to have to find parking in downtown Minneapolis with all that traffic."

However, the biggest reason I see for the Vikings ticket sales woes will always be:

Having said all of this, there is still no excuse for not selling out the home-opener. None. If one game should be sold out, it is the home opener. There are a lot of reasons our fans might justify it, but it is still sad.

Again, the question is: does this mean the Vikings have bad fans?

Ticket sales are certainly the best way to measure fan appreciation, but there are other factors that could be considered. One is TV ratings. According to the StarTribune:

A Vikings blackout would have a substantial impact on the Minnesota fan base, which even in bad times has traditionally given local broadcasters large ratings. Last year, the Vikings finished 6-10 but still averaged a 30.2 rating and a 59 share in the Twin Cities, 10th-best in the NFL.

During the Randy Moss years it was said that 75% of homes in the entire state were tuned to Vikings games on Sunday. And really, 10th best in the NFL for TV ratings for the boring team they had last year is pretty good.

Obviously, the Vikings have people that are interested in the team. There is no doubt about that. The Vikings also have a lot of passionate fans which can be demonstrated by people attending practices at Training Camp, or dressing up like idiots on game day.

But I have to say that the potential for TV blackouts, plus good overall TV ratings, plus a smattering of passionate fans does not equal a "great" fan base. It equals an "average" fan base, at best.

I love the Vikings. I always have and it pains me that Minnesota does not embrace them like the fans of other teams. But the fact of the matter is even the possibility of TV blackouts signals fan apathy for whatever reason. On the whole, fans of the Vikings are way too fickle and our unwillingness to go out to the game sends a bad message to both the legislature and the NFL.

Posted by snackeru at September 6, 2007 5:51 PM


Like most issues; paralysis by analysis runs rampant.

How can not selling out send a bad message to the legislature? I heard that on the news last night as well, what a joke. If the Vikes had a 10 year waiting list for the dome, anti-stadium folks would use that as an excuse as well; "you're sold out for the next decade, what do you need a new stadium for?" typical can't see forest for the trees mindset. A new stadium, Twins, Vikes or otherwise is always about R-E-V-E-N-U-E. The almighty dollar. Hardly ever about the fan experience or stadium "character."

Bottom line, the NFL is a made for TV sport. I am and have been a die hard Vikes fan my whole life. I've been to maybe 3 games in 25 years because the LIVE football experience sucks! I don't care how good the team is. And as people get older, the tolerance for stupid drunks in the stands, loud music and inconvenience gets less and less.

The Vikes should do away with their stadium requests; get a revenue deal with the Gophers stadium, double their ticket prices (they'd still sell out 50k pretty easily to the diehards) and rape and pillage the local media on their access and coverage. They'll pay it and people will watch it.

Posted by: STM at September 7, 2007 10:28 AM

I love the 1-2-3 format. I will continue.
1 - How dare you insult butter!!?!? Do you fry eggs in butter or salsa? Do you put mustard on your popcorn? Butter DOES have personality and character and you need to respect it. The dome has no personality, 'nuff said, you don't have to diss butter.
2 - you forgot the casino in Green Bay and in Minneapolis which also compete for entertainment.
3 - for this suburban mom, it's about the sport in general. I have gone to two professional football games in my life, both were dates. I would not go alone or of my own choosing (sorry Recky). Not that I am their target audience, but other entertainment venues appeal to a diverse population and pro football still is trying to reach the same person they have always sought: the pseudo warrior who wants to watch his athletic, competitive, violent fantasy be played out in an arena for his pleasure. There's a part of every human that craves "bread and circus". Pro football simply isn't my particular brand. If they want to fill thier stadiums they either need to change the product or build smaller stadiums.

Posted by: Cheesehead's Wife at September 7, 2007 10:51 AM

The Vikings game will DEFINITELY be on TV. I have it from an inside source. I will also be watching it from my couch. No guarantees about the other 7 home games though.

Posted by: Derek at September 7, 2007 11:04 AM

35W will be closed in both directions, and two of the streets around the stadium will be closed as well. Why are you not asking questions of the government officials that closed these roads? Make it possible for fans to get to the game, and they will come!
And don't give me any crap about taking the light rail to the game. There's a reason they call it "light" rail. Just how many fans do you think can board a train that only has two (2) cars?

Posted by: Dave T at September 7, 2007 11:09 AM

If you exclude suite and club seat tickets, the Vikings have THE MOST expensive average ticket price in the NFL. We are a very wealthy market, but they have been raising ticket prices every year, and sooner or later, it had to catch up with them.

I went to a Lions game (a rather poor market) last year in Detroit. I sat about two-thirds of the way up in the lower level at the 35 yard line and paid $70. At the Metrodome, $70 puts you in MUCH worse seats. They are thousands of upper deck seats that are over $100.

Shane has a good analysis. I think we are a good market for all our teams, but we do have a wide variety of entertainment options. I don't think we are fair-weather fans, because no team in the world has the same passion when they are losing as they do when they are winning. Even the storied Packer fan base (whom I consider to be the best fans in pro sports) lose some momentum in the office here at work when they have a lousy season. They may still sell the games out, but you can't tell me that there aren't lots of people that jump on the bandwagon in Wisconsin. Look at the Badgers, look at the Brewers now, look at the Bucks when they made that run, look at the Badger hockey and hoops teams. Fans come out when they win.

Posted by: Derek at September 7, 2007 11:14 AM

Dave T might be surprised to find out that those two cars run by the Dome about every ten minutes or so for two hours before kickoff and about three hours after the game is likely to end. Try looking at a schedule sometime before spouting off, OK?


Posted by: Snyder at September 7, 2007 12:40 PM

oooh yea, LRT - the "answer" to all lifes problems.

I wouldn't ride that piece of crap if they PAID ME to ride the friggin thing. The only good thing about it is it keeps the morons off the road!

Posted by: db at September 7, 2007 12:50 PM

"A new stadium, Twins, Vikes or otherwise is always about R-E-V-E-N-U-E. The almighty dollar. Hardly ever about the fan experience or stadium "character.""

Yes, revenue is obviously important, but to say that new stadiums are hardly ever about the fan experience or stadium character is just wrong.

Tell that to fans who have seen games at wonderful ballparks with a lot of character like PNC Park (Pittsburgh), At&t Park (San Francisco), CB Ballpark (Philly), Petco Park (San Diego), Camden Yards (Baltimore), and Coors Field (Denver) to name a few. All of these ballparks have character, charm, and are very fan friendly. I doubt you've been to any of these parks, but if you have than you've clearly missed the point.

And it's not just baseball, there are many fantastic new soccer stadiums in Europe that also have a lot of character.

Posted by: Lafferty at September 7, 2007 1:10 PM

I fully support my wife on her butter stance. Butter adds far more value on a daily basis to everyone's life than the Vikings ever will.

I will certainly agree that if the product on the field is junk the attendance is bound to suffer after a while. Getting into a discussion about who has better fans is pointless. Every team has great fans and crappy ones.

The Vikings have had a combination of horrible ownership and poor coaching for quite a few years and that has essentially turned off the "casual" fan base and has partially eroded some of the more "hard core" bans as well. I feel many fans have resigned themselves that the situation will not get better, so why bother caring.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at September 7, 2007 1:34 PM

A couple of thoughts....

Cheesehead's wife kinda freaked me out....

Well STM can lounge all day Sunday, Fox9 bought the remaining tix, approximately 1,200. That means the Vikes only sold 500 tickets since yesterday morning. Unless they start peeling off big wins, Vikes are staring at future blackouts...

db sounds like the kind of unenlightened buffoon that wants everything done for him but doesn't want to pay for it. You know the guy: "Fix the roads, but don't raise the gasoline tax!!"

Anyway nice strawman argument db with the "LRT the solution to all of life's problems" quip. Show me one person who has ever said that. Most people believe LRT is part of a well balanced transportation system. One that includes roads, bus, LRT, bike, and walking. All of which btw, will serve the new Twins Ballpark and which I am happy to say db is partially subsidizing evertime he buys a case of Blatz in Hennepin County.

Posted by: Freealonzo at September 7, 2007 1:37 PM

It would be pretty interesting to do a "fickle fan index", where you analyzed the ticket sales and TV ratings before and after crushing losses or big victories.

The reason why San Diego has blackout problems is because San Diego is a "participator sports" town. All year round, people are active, doing solo sports or playing in leagues. Where would you rather be on a sunny, 70 degree Sunday in November? At the Murph, packed in like sardines, or 3 miles away, playing volleyball at the beach?

Posted by: chapman at September 7, 2007 3:03 PM

I find pro football to be almost unwatchable at the stadium. I will never, free from duress, pay to watch an NFL game at a stadium for the rest of my life. Since my wife would rather kill herself than to go, I doubt that I'll even face such a situation of duress.

Posted by: SBG at September 7, 2007 3:47 PM

Freealonzo is a liberal nerd. Go smell your flowers someplace else. The "science" of mass transit was debunked long ago. The utopic world you dream of; all our energy generated by the wind as people all cuddle next to each other on a "love train" is just a hallucination left over from your dropping acid days. Peace!

Posted by: db at September 7, 2007 4:31 PM

Baseball: Better live (although the behind-pitcher camera angles are nice during pitching duels)

Basketball: Better live (unless you have a nosebleed seat)

Hockey: Better live

Golf: Better on TV (but still not that good)

Football: Better on TV

Arguing with others and calling them ignorant and delusional: Better on the Web (safer that way)

Posted by: chapman at September 7, 2007 5:23 PM

so KMSP bought 1200 tix... smart move... they'll make good ratings with it.

Posted by: CJ at September 7, 2007 5:47 PM

"liberal nerd" loose translation - Free can read, whereas us enlightened conservatives... we embrace all things "truthy" like "The "science" of mass transit was debunked long ago."

Truth is, public transit is never intended to run at a profit, what scares me is that there are a lot of people out there, who seemed wedded to the notion that government is meant to run at a profit. It doesn't work that way. Government does what the private sector cannot or will not. And in the matter of infrastructure it's a little of both.

Mass transit is meant to be a piece of the of the overall transportation puzzle. It's not meant for every single person, to make every single trip, every single day... it's meant to reduce the overall single-passenger car load on our roads, and remove congestion on heavily traveled routes... and guess what? it works at that, and it does so very well.

additionally, it exists because our economy is such that a large number of people working 40 hours a week still cannot afford to own a car... but i've discovered that most of the people i've met who hate on public transit really just dont want to do squat to help those less fortunate than they, even if it is something as simple as a bus.

Posted by: CJ at September 7, 2007 5:54 PM

Who can read? It was only 400 tickets.

Steve LaCroix, the Vikings’ vice president of sales and marketing, just stopped by to straighten out the situation on how a blackout of Sunday’s game was avoided. Local Fox affiliate KMSP (Ch. 9), which will air the Vikings-Falcons, actually purchased 400 tickets from the team.


Posted by: STM at September 7, 2007 6:15 PM

it's meant to reduce the overall single-passenger car load on our roads, and remove congestion on heavily traveled routes... and guess what? it works at that, and it does so very well.

I remain unconvinced. I think some people romanticize public transportation beyond its real impact and effectiveness. The 'ole grass is greener on th other side of the fence. Roads do all the "heavy lifting" when it comes to transportation and moving our economy and because of that, often get criticized the most.

Posted by: STM at September 7, 2007 6:21 PM

The problem with the current light rail is that the path really isn't the best. It needs to spider web out more to the suburbs instead of focusing on downtown, the MOA and the airport.

Plus, it needs to go at 100 mph and have a cool name like the Kickass Express! Oh and the cars all need to be painted red with white racing stripes like the car Starsky and Hutch had.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at September 7, 2007 7:52 PM

Cheesehead, you forgot about the need for LRT to have at least one Hooter's car with beer served by Hooter gals!

Posted by: freealonzo at September 7, 2007 8:48 PM

Free, you are an evil genius!

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at September 7, 2007 10:40 PM

I may just be a "hick from the sticks," but I have been extremely impressed by the LRT each time I have been on it. It works well, is moderately cheap, and beats sitting in a traffic jam.

The Vikes just aren't generating a buzz right now. The offense is boring, the coach has zero personality, and the owner is nothing more than a stuffed shirt. Add into this mix the upcoming stadium battle, and it is tough for a lot of people to get into the Vikes this year. That being said, if they start 4-1, the sell outs will happen.

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at September 8, 2007 8:02 AM

if they start 4-1, the sell outs will happen.

do you mean happen again? because I don't think they ever stopped.

Posted by: STM at September 8, 2007 9:13 AM

NFC north baby! The only ones getting in our way are the Detroit Lions.

Posted by: I Want Answer at September 9, 2007 6:56 PM

I love LRT! Build more trains!

Posted by: SBG at September 10, 2007 2:04 PM

The Kickass Express. I'm in.

Then again, I was on board for regular ol' LRT, too.

Posted by: Alex B at September 10, 2007 11:28 PM

Alert: Thread Hijack!

Led Zeppelin is doing a reunion show: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20739983/

Posted by: Taivas at September 12, 2007 12:57 PM

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