On day after quarterback Brett Favre signed with the Minnesota Vikings the team says it's sold thousands of single game and season tickets.
Merchandisers say freshly minted No. 4 Favre jerseys are in high demand, and it appears the Favre acquisition has energized the Vikings. Vikings players and fans were surprised by Brett Favre's last minute decision to join the team, but Las Vegas oddsmaker Sean VanPatten says he wasn't and his numbers reflect that.
"You know, it was kind of a common feeling out there that maybe he was just trying to get around not having to come in and throw a lot in training camp," he said.
VanPatten is with Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a company that helps some of the largest casinos with their sports books. He says when Favre initially signaled interest in playing for the Vikings, his firm moved the Vikings odds of winning the Super Bowl from 22 to 1 to 14 to 1. He says they stayed at 14 to 1 even after the Vikings said Favre would not play for them and that's where they remain now even though the deal is done.
"If this was just any other guy that may have retired and then thought about coming back and then saying no, I'm going to stay retired, we probably would have adjusted closer back to what our original number was," he said. "But he's done this now for the past two, you know, almost three seasons -- you know he kind of flip-flops back and forth."
While oddsmakers may be less than excited or surprised at the Favre news, that's not seeming to hold true for fans.
Hayden Johnson is one of a growing number of 11-year-olds sporting a brand new Brett Favre Vikings Jersey.
Johnson is visiting Minnesota from his home near Billings, Mont. His parents forked over $80 for the oversized, purple shirt at the Mall of America Vikings Locker Room store.
"I wanted it and they wanted me to have it so I just, I'm like, sure, I'll get it," he said.
Inside the store fans can buy everything Vikings; BBQ sets, playing cards, yo-yos, tablecloths and more.
But what most were picking up today were those Favre jerseys. Dave Peterson had no problem spending $160 for two of the shirts.
"Didn't even flinch yep, even in these hard times," he said.
MainGate Incorporated runs the three Vikings mall stores along with the team's internet and Metrodome sales. The company's chief operating officer, Bruce Lynch, says he put together a marketing plan months ago when Favre started talking about playing for the Vikings. He pulled the trigger yesterday morning, and that's why the merchandise is already on shelves.
"We actually had a truck in Indianapolis last night at 9:00 waiting for Reebok to finish their jerseys, and as soon as their jerseys were finished we had three guys in a truck drove the jerseys up here," he said. "We all met this morning and distributed to all three of our mall locations so all three malls had jerseys by the time we opened."
A good thing, because Lynch says lines of eager customers were waiting for them from the time the doors opened.
Lynch says many more Favre items are in the pipeline.
The Vikings chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix says signing Favre was a football decision, not a marketing move. But LaCroix says the Vikings have the capacity to sell more tickets, and that's happening.
LaCroix says so far, there have been 3,000 new season ticket sales along with 10,000 single game tickets.
"The perception out there is that we are sold out, which is not the case, and before we signed him we had tickets available for every home game and still do," he said. "The Green Bay game is part of a full season package. The other nine games are available as a stand alone basis."