The Vikings made significant progress in selling tickets earlier this week, but they still have a ways to go and could ask for an extension from the league to avoid a local television blackout.
Apparently, Vikings fans weren't as confident as the coaches and players that they were going to win the NFC North title. As of Monday, as many as 20,000 tickets remained for Sunday's game with the Eagles. While that number had dropped to 14,000 by Tuesday, it is expected that the team is going to ask the league for an extension Wednesday or Thursday that would give fans an extra day to buy tickets to avoid a blackout.
The Vikings haven't had a blackout since 1997, but, whether due to the unpredictability of winning the division or economic problems, only about 55 percent of season ticket holders pre-purchased playoff tickets for a potential home playoff game.
The Vikings went all out Tuesday to drum up fan support, having Chad Greenway
, Pat Williams
and Kevin Williams
appear on KFAN-AM radio, the Vikings flagship station. The push appeared to have worked, because dropping the number by 6,000 tickets is significant by any standard.
Teams looking to avoid blackouts typically wait until the deadline day to request an extension. Because of the league's 72-hour rule, that would make the current deadline 3:30 p.m. Central Time Thursday. However, because Thursday is New Year's Day, the Vikings are hoping to get an extension approved today.
Prices for the game range from $30 to $160, and fans are encouraged to visit www.ticketmaster.com
to purchase tickets. Fans can also call Ticketmaster at (651) 989-5151 or toll free at (800) 745-3000.
The team will likely announce a new number of remaining tickets later this afternoon.
Although it didn't require an extension, the last time the Vikings hosted a playoff game in 2000 against the New Orleans Saints, more than 10,000 tickets remained the Monday before the game – significant considering the Vikings were the No. 2 seed and had an additional week to sell tickets before they finally moved.
There are still question marks as to whether Pat Williams will be able to play Sunday. There are some who have speculated that if he is less than 100 percent, the team might consider resting his ailing shoulder another week. The Eagles aren't much of a running team (22nd in the league) and much of that is done outside the tackles by shifty RB Brian Westbrook. The fear is that, if Williams was to aggravate the injury, he could be on the shelf in the event the Vikings win. If Minnesota defeats Philadelphia, the Vikings would be guaranteed to play the Carolina Panthers in the second round of the playoffs.
The Vikings signed kicker Taylor Mehlhaff and linebacker Kenny Onatolu to reserve/futures contracts Tuesday.
In what is likely an NFL first, all four home teams in the wild card round of the playoff are home underdogs.
There is talk that the Pro Bowl may be played during the bye weekend between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl in 2010, which is scheduled to be played in Miami. Both the governor of Hawaii and mayor of Honolulu confirmed that the NFL will try the early Pro Bowl on a one-year trial basis, taking it away from its typical home in Hawaii.
The 49ers fired Mike Martz Tuesday, meaning if there are Niners players who have been with the team seven years, they will have had seven different offensive coordinators as of next season.