Al Dougherty has been a Vikings season ticket holder for years, but he says enough is enough. He won't be renewing the season tickets he's held for years. It isn't football that's soured him on the Vikings, although the team has only one win this season. It's that he thinks he'll have to come up with thousands of dollars to keep his seats in a new stadium.
The team recently announced plans to sell 49,000 seat licenses to help pay off the Vikings nearly half-billion dollar contribution to a new field. The average price is $2,500, although Dougherty thinks his end zone seats will cost a lot more.
"If they're going to charge that, I'm done. I'm just going to enjoy this year. I've got my tickets. I'm hoping to have some fun this year. I won't give up on the Vikings, as far as they're concerned. But I'm not going to participate in the stadium thing. I think it's gotten way out of hand," he said.
That sentiment held true for many fans. They say the team's plans to charge the one-time seat fees to get season tickets at the new stadium will simply price them out of the game. But others think there are good reasons to pay the Vikings thousands of dollars more for their seats.
Ron Moore is one of them. He is a season ticket holder from Des Moines, Iowa. He's a die-hard Vikings fan and he's ready to put his money where his seat is — near the 30-yard line.
"It's the cost of doing business," Moore said. He wants to be there for what he's hoping will be the next generations of the Vikings — maybe the successors to the legendary Super Bowl teams of Bud Grant, or the middling hopefuls that have played in the Metrodome of late. For Moore, it's an investment in better football.
"That's what I think this NFL is all about. It financially is the franchise being able to afford to bring in the elite players to win. You know, we have the best running back in the NFL, but we can't find the correct chemistry as far as quarterback and receivers to take us to the next level."
Others are more pragmatic about the idea. Thirty years in the Metrodome have left Vikings seats a complicated hash of ownership and tradition. It can be hard on game day to find someone sitting in seats they actually bought from the team.
Larry Hendricks and his wife Katherine, of New Prague, were sitting in a set of corporate seats halfway up the lower level. Hendricks himself pays for two season tickets, owned by someone else, on the other side of the stadium. His daughter has a third set somewhere else. Hendricks says he'd pay a lot to simplify the transaction.
"You know, when you can't transfer ownership, that's a bummer. If we could get the tickets in my own name, I definitely will do it. I won't even hesitate," he said.
And for others, it's simply a matter of priorities. Chris Corless, of Bloomington, brought his dad Larry to the game Sunday, and says he'll buy seat licenses to keep doing that — and not do something else.
"My boat's getting old," he said. "I was saving money to buy a new one in the next couple of years. And that's probably just going to take that and put it to the side. I'll wind up making do with what I have."
Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson says the team is confident that, in the end, the seat licenses will sell.
"We've heard mixed reaction from fans. Obviously, there's some concerns. But we've had some new folks sign up," he said. The team will lay out the actual prices and start selling the licenses early next year.