The challenge of putting enough seating in TCF Bank Stadium will definitely be a big one when the venue hosts games for the Minnesota Vikings during the construction of their new stadium. The construction is expected to last over two years, which means that “The Gopher Hole” will be the Vikings home during that time.
While it is great that the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Vikings could work out a deal during the construction, there are problems that will arise.
Vikings vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix spoke about the difficulty of not only finding room for season ticket holders, but to be able to offer seats to the public as well.
“It’s been an interesting challenge,” LaCroix said. “It’s something that we’ve tried to create a fair and straightforward and transparent process in this transition. When you go from 64,000 seats to 52,000, obviously it’s a challenge on basic math. Right now it’s full. So as far as everyone renews, then we’ll have very few to minimal seats available on a game-by-game basis. But every sports team has some turnover, so we’ll kind of manage that with new season ticket sales. There are other fans that want to come on board and be part of an outdoor experience in an improved stadium. So it’s going to be a balance, but this is really Step 1 of a multi-step process.”
So, to put things in perspective, there will be about 12,000 less seats available at TCF Bank Stadium compared to Mall of America Field. The decrease from 64,000 seats to 52,000 doesn’t sound too bad until you consider the numbers. The Vikings have approximately 11,000 season ticket holders account for more than 53,000 seats. That means that unless season ticket holders sell their seats or choose not to buy their seats those years, that very few, if any seats could be available to the general public.
The Gopher Hole will see an addition of 2,000 bleacher seats to help accommodate fans, but even that is a drop in the bucket. Cold weather and bad conditions could scare fans away because of the open stadium at the University of Minnesota. If that happens, more tickets could be out there, but never count out the die-hard Vikings fans.
Having to assign seating for season ticket owners was one of the toughest transitions, and trying to accommodate with similar seating. The team ran computer simulations and used three factors in determining seating: Metrodome seat location, number of current seats and the years purchased and season ticket owner tenure.
Despite the high demand and low supply of tickets, prices won’t change too much. Face value will range from $35 to $139 at The Gopher Hole compared to $31 to $133 at the Metrodome last year.
“We fully understand there’s going to be an element of people that don’t want to sit outside, and we’re not going to punish season ticket owners for not staying with us at TCF,” Vikings executive director of communications Jeff Anderson said. “But there’s a balance of you do want to reward those that do come along with you. You’re not dropping to the end of a line or onto a waiting list. It’s going to be a very small impact on your priority at the new stadium.”
Steve LaCroix feels that the enhanced amenities at TFC Bank Stadium will be a big draw compared to the Metrodome.
“Overall we think it’s going to be a better fan experience,” LaCroix said. “There’s more restrooms. There’s more diverse concessions and obviously we’re back to the elements, which we’re going to embrace organizational-wide just with our fan base, as a football organization, we’re going to embrace for two years we’re back outside.”