Seat licenses create emotional fan reaction

4:23 PM, Oct 4, 2013   |    comments
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HKS Vikings stadium design

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota Vikings fans were still adjusting on Friday to Thursday's announcement of seat licenses at the new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis.

A seat license, which the Vikings are calling Stadium Builder Licenses, gives the owner the right to purchase a season ticket for that seat in the stadium.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority signed a 30-year lease and use agreement with the Vikings for the new stadium, which is to be completed in 2016.

The team says it will use the $100 million in proceeds from the licenses to cover a portion of its $477 million share. The new stadium comes with $975 million price tag.

The licenses range in cost from $500 to $10,000 per seat, depending on the location. The average license fee is $2,500. A number of long-time season ticket holders are expressing sticker shock.

"I have only had mine for 30 years," explained Steve Olinger, of Edina. "There are people that have had tickets since the Vikings began and their ticket prices, those seat licenses, are going to be outrageous."

The exact cost of a license for a particular seat is not known as yet.

"The details of this licensing program will all be laid out next winter," said Michele Kelm-Helgen, MSFA Chair, "when they actually start selling season ticket packages as well as the seat licenses. Right now, there is no plan specifically, that says if you want this seat, this is what your license would be."

Not all Vikings fans think the seat licenses are a bad idea. Self-proclaimed "super fan" Larry Spooner warns fellow fans that "you can only have a free ride so long." Spooner sees a connection to the contentious debate in the state Legislature over the cost of the almost billion dollar arena.

"You know, a lot of people that did not want this stadium built said 'the people that use this stadium should pay for it'. Well, guess what?" Spooner said. "Proudly, we are going to be paying for this stadium, a lot of season ticket holders."

Olinger said he has not decided whether he will purchase the licenses to renew his four lower deck season tickets.

"It surprised me when it actually came through," said Olinger.

Season ticket holder Mark Carpenter expects to renew.

"At $2,500 average, that is a lot of money, but it is not, given the time that we have to pay it off. I know some people will not be able to afford it, but overall, it is not as bad as I feared."

One aspect of the deal between the MSFA and the Vikings bothered Carpenter.

"I am disappointed that (licenses) is hitting 75 percent of the seats. I was hoping for something more like 25 percent, expecting about 50 percent."

The new stadium will seat 65,000 fans. About 48, 500 would require seat licenses. A large percentage of those are to be "affordable," according to Kelm-Helgen, meaning closer to the $500 minimum.

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