When the stadium debate was going on in the Minnesota State Legislature, opposition politicos were grasping at any straws they could find to try to talk their fellow legislators out of approving the deal. If you believed everything you heard, schoolchildren would go without textbooks and the elderly were being herded together in dank, windowless pole barns at some undisclosed location.
Some of the arguments were passionate, but they were trying to make a case to convince their fellow lawmakers that the state shouldn't kick in a dime toward a new stadium, despite information that the economic benefit (not to mention the cultural/historical significance) of being "an NFL town" was there.
One argument that was made, however, that wasn't as easily dismissed was that the cost of attending a Vikings game will price the average consumer out of the market. As it stands, many Vikings fans sacrifice something else to buy season tickets. But, how does one accurately assess the final cost of going to an NFL game.
A Chicago-based sports marketing firm called TMR (Team Marketing Report) has come as close as any to trying to determine the final cost of attending an NFL game, and the ticket price is only part of the equation for the full fan experience.
TMR came up with a trademarked Fan Cost Index (FCI), which combines several factors to determine an average cost to take a family of four to an NFL game. The FCI is comprised of purchasing four tickets at the team-average price, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two of the least-expensive adjustable team caps.
How much do you think, using that formula, it costs to take a family of four to an NFL game?
Would you believe $427.21?
Most teams (21 of 32) are less than the league average, including the Vikings. The Vikings are in the middle of the curve at $396, checking in slightly below average in almost all of the parameters set forth in the fan index. Considering that two-thirds of the teams are more affordable than the average index number, those at the top need to make up for a lot of those costs … and boy, howdy, do they.
A family of four who wants to see a Jets game under that scenario will pay a whopping $629. Four other teams average more than $500 for a single game – Dallas ($614), New England ($597), the New York Giants ($592) and Chicago ($557). The other six teams above the NFL average are Baltimore ($486), Indianapolis ($452), Washington ($441), San Francisco ($441), San Diego ($432) and Green Bay ($430).
While a lot of fans don't buy beer or programs or hats, one can only imagine that there are enough fans that purchase a half-dozen beers (if you've ever been to a game at an NFL stadium, you know there are plenty of them to go around).
A hundred dollars a head sounds like a lot, but, when you look at the price of going to a concert or a large amusement park, it really isn't that outrageous. For fans who tailgate and buy their team memorabilia at Wal-Mart, they can get by at about $80 a head – not absurdly high for an NFL experience. It could be much worse. You could be a Jets or Cowboys fan. If you're a Jets fan, you're going to have to plunk down $500 just to get four people into the stadium. The same goes for Dallas, where they have an absurd $75 parking fee.
Has the NFL boxed out the "average fan?" Not when compared to other forms of entertainment. In some places, it may have reached that critical mass point, but, from the Vikings fan perspective, you would spend just as much to see Justin Bieber … and who wants to do that?
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
NFL a spendy time; Vikings below average
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