The painful economy has caused the Vikings to freeze their ticket prices for the 2009 season in an effort to keep fans on the growing bandwagon and keep a sellout streak intact.
At a time when the economy is as bad as it has been in decades and talk of recession has bordered on depression, it is getting harder and harder for many families to make ends meet. Spending money on things like football games has become more difficult.
Aware that their fan base may well be struggling, the Vikings became the fifth team in the league to announce that it will freeze ticket prices for 2009 – the first time since 1998 that there hasn't been at least a modest increase in the price of tickets for the following season.
Vikings Vice President of Sales and Marketing Steve LaCroix announced Thursday that the Vikings had many reasons to acknowledge the fans' loyalty and passion to the product in light of the current challenges they potentially face economically.
As a result, the price of season tickets will remain the same – ranging from $25 to $123 per seat – as well as single-game tickets – ranging from $30 to $135.
The Vikings join Jacksonville, New Orleans, San Diego and San Francisco in announcing a ticket price freeze for next year and the NFL has announced that it will drop the price of playoff tickets by 10 percent from a year ago for similar financial-concern reasons.
Minnesota fans have more than shown their loyalty through good times and bad. In 1997, the Vikings faced four blackouts of games and in 1998 new owner Red McCombs made it his mission to sell out every game – preseason and regular season. The current string of sellouts sits at 112, with sellouts assured for the final two regular-season games the next two weeks.
For the second straight week, Jared Allen has sat out practice both Wednesday and Thursday as he heals from both a sprained left MCL and a shoulder injury suffered more than a month ago. He is expected to return to practice on a limited basis Friday and play on Sunday.
Adrian Peterson, who missed most of practice Wednesday with a sprained ankle, was limited again on Thursday. However, it is being viewed more as precautionary than a major concern about his availability to play Sunday.
In other Vikings injury news, Bernard Berrian was given Thursday off to heal his body and get some additional rest. OT Artis Hicks did limited work as he tries to recover from a partially torn right triceps. His availability for Sunday's game is uncertain. He was replaced by former starter Ryan Cook last Sunday at Arizona. Pat Williams remains out with a shoulder injury. Darius Reynaud (foot) returned to practice on a limited basis after being out Wednesday. Brian Robison (knee) remains limited, but is expected to play Sunday.
On the Falcons injury front, DE John Abraham (thigh/shoulder) missed a second straight day of practice, but, like Allen, is expected to practice today and play Sunday. OT Todd Weiner, who missed Wednesday practice, returned on a limited basis Thursday, while DT Grady Jackson (knee), was limited on Wednesday but couldn't practice Thursday.
The Vikings-Falcons NFC Championship Game from 1998 will be shown tonight on NFL Network at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST. For those who have gotten over the pain of that season-ending game, the latest issue of Viking Update magazine looks back on the 1998 season with memories of players, coaches and maverick owner Red McCombs. It is on sale at most bookstores in the area and wherever magazines are sold.
The Vikings picked up the option with their flagship radio stations KFAN (1130 AM) and KTLK (100.3 FM) for 2009.
It's a good thing the Vikings have the Falcons at the Metrodome instead of the Georgia Dome. In one of the stranger statistics of the season, the teams from the NFC South have a combined record of 26-2 at home (the only losses being by the Saints against the Vikings and the Falcons against the Broncos). Yet, those same four teams have a combined record of 10-18 playing on the road.
The Vikings finished the season 4-4 on the road – the first time they haven't had a sub-.500 record on the road since 2000.