Created: 02/10/2014 1:57 PM WHEC.com
By: BRIAN BAKST
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Fifty yard-line season tickets in the lower section of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium come with an upfront license fee of $4,500 to $9,500, while a seat in the nosebleeds will set loyal fans back a $500 fee, team officials announced Friday.
The release of the pricing structure for the personal seat licenses, which the team is calling stadium builder's licenses, coincides with a ramp-up in marketing for seats in the under-construction stadium set to open in 2016. Current season ticket holders have first rights to buy into the new building, with sales to them happening in waves over the next nine months. Those one-time charges are on top of the annual price of buying a ticket, which will go for $50 to $400 apiece per game.
"A lot of it's driven like a real-estate model," said Jason Gonella, executive director of the seat-license program.
In other words, it's about location, location, location. Those who pay the most will get access to a spacious bar and lounge with sweeping views of the field, or seats right at field level where they can slap hands with players as they enter. Other coveted seats will come with private concourses and concession areas.
Three-quarters of the stadium's 65,000 seats will have a license fee attached. The average license will cost $2,500. About 2,400 seats will require a license fee of $7,000 or higher, while about 2,300 will have a fee of $500. Others will have fees that fall somewhere in between.
Vikings ownership is using seat license proceeds to cover one-fifth of the $500 million private share for the $1 billion stadium. The licenses are expected to generate $125 million, but a chunk of that is being poured back into marketing. The Vikings plan to open a 7,500-square-foot "preview center" this month where fans can see what the new place has to offer.
Critics of the project have complained that steep upfront costs for football fans are unfair given that state and city taxes will pay roughly half of construction costs.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said she is "comfortable" with the pricing structure.
The Vikings are the 18th NFL franchise to tack the special assessments onto season tickets to pay for a new or renovated building. The amount the team is pulling in from the fees — capped by state law — put the team in the middle, according to inflation-adjusted figures. Kelm-Helgen said if the Vikings cannot find enough buyers to meet projections they'll have to make up the difference.
Officials say the assessment can be paid interest free over three years. Those fans needing longer can sign up for an eight-year payment schedule with interest costs attached.
For the next two seasons, the Vikings will play at the University of Minnesota's on-campus, open-air stadium. It is smaller than the Metrodome, which is currently being demolished. Season ticket holders who choose not to go outdoors won't lose their place in line in the new building, Vikings chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix said.
The seat license owners only get guaranteed access to 10 NFL games per season, though they'll have priority to purchase playoff tickets. If the NFL awards Minneapolis a Super Bowl, the license holders won't get special preference when it comes to tickets, however.
Buyers can later sell the seat license to other fans if they no longer want to buy a season ticket.
While the Vikings are the main tenant, the publicly owned stadium will be used for events year-round, from concerts to amateur sports. But none of those are subject to license fees.
"Nobody was going to pay a seat license to come watch monster trucks," Kelm-Helgen said.
(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)