The Minnesota Vikings are working through the logistics of moving season-ticket holders from the Metrodome to the smaller TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
Despite the challenges, Vikings officials say all 54,000 season-ticket holders have been offered seating in the 52,000-seat TCF Bank Stadium because of the differences in suite seating, club seats and other factors. The 11,000 season-ticket holder accounts were informed of their new assignments this week and given the option to purchase them. In the new Vikings stadium, which will seat 65,400 and is being constructed with a 2016 opening planned, season-ticket holders will be able to pick their seating.
The move to TCF – and the new assignments – haven't been without significant challenges. Besides 12,000 fewer seats in "The Bank," there are 7,000 fewer seats in the lower level than the Metrodome had. Additionally, there are no seats right at the 50-yard line, which in TCF is an aisle. Sections are also smaller at TCF, meaning those who like or dislike aisle seating may not get what they want.
But there are some advantages to the move.
"This is a great-seating stadium," said Phil Huebner, Vikings director of ticketing and hospitality. "The sightlines are phenomenal compared to the Metrodome."
The Vikings started planning the move 14 months ago, and their ticket office was being moved out of the Metrodome Thursday and Friday. But the pricing for tickets was just sent for renewals.
Entry level tickets at TCF will be $35, compared to $31 at the Metrodome, and $139 tickets at TCF were $133 at the Metrodome.
"Invoices are out and phones are ringing," Huebner said.
The Vikings typically see somewhere around a 90 percent renewal rate from one season to the next, but they don't yet know how that will compare this year. Every year, 2,000 to 5,000 season-ticket owners also put in requests for relocations.
Steve LaCroix, the vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer, said the Vikings have received about the "same amount of activity and response" at this early stage of the renewal process as usual.
The Vikings are not requiring that current season-ticket holders at the Metrodome continue with season tickets at TCF in order to receive seat-selection priority over new fans at the new stadium.
Suites are also an issue at TCF. The Metrodome had 60 suites and TCF has only 38, with the lease-holders in those suites for University of Minnesota events having first priority to maintain control of them during the two seasons the Vikings will be playing there. The deadline for those decisions is Feb. 1.
Parking, with about 2,500 parking spots, is close to the same as the Metrodome configuration and similar to what it would be at a Gophers game. The Central Corridor light-rail line should be operational by the football season. Tailgating is still a work in progress at TCF.
The type of seating will also be different. All seats in the Metrodome have seat backs, but only 22,000 at TCF have seat backs. Season-ticket holders have the option to rent seat backs for the season that remain affixed throughout the season.
"Overall, we think it's going to be a better fan experience. There's more restrooms, there's more diverse concessions," LaCroix said. "And obviously we're back to the elements, which we're going to embrace organization-wide."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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.
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