Vikings left with 8,000 tickets

The Vikings' push to sell 20,000 playoff tickets in basically five days has come down to this: 24 hours, 8,000 tickets left and a potential local television blackout looming.

The Vikings are left trying to sell 8,000 tickets in 24 hours to avoid a local television blackout of the team's first home playoff game since 2000.

On Wednesday, the Vikings still had about 11,000 to sell, so they would have to more than double their pace of sales Thursday night and Friday in order to make the NFL's 3:30 p.m. Central deadline on Friday.

"We made some progress overnight. With the New Year's Eve holiday, it slowed down somewhat, a little sluggish. This morning it started to kick in gear," said Steve LaCroix, vice president of sales and marketing, who described the mood as "cautiously optimistic. We're not backing off of our efforts. There is a lot of activity at TicketMaster."

Most of the tickets that remain are in the $80, $120 and $180 ranges, he said. Fans are encouraged to visit to purchase tickets or they can call Ticketmaster at (651) 989-5151 or toll free at (800) 745-3000.

The Vikings have been promoting ticket sales for the game on FOX, NFL Network and even the Gophers' bowl game last night.

The team has had discussions with FOX, which is televising the game on Sunday, about purchasing some tickets, as well as other corporate sponsors, but they likely would still need to sell several thousand more before that became feasible.

"We've had those discussions. They are in the same boat as everybody else, as far as the start of a new quarter and a very tough economic and financial environment. So really there is no one that is going to come in and save the day at this point," LaCroix said. "When you have this many seats available, it ends up being a pretty expensive proposition. Unless it really tightens down, then maybe we can have something like that happen."

LaCroix said the television blackout would encompass most of Minnesota and some of the surrounding areas because of the way that television markets are defined.

"DirectTV is cut off (in the affected areas), so you can't go to your local sports bar. If you don't get it at home, you can't go down the street to whatever sports bar it is to watch the game. It's across the board. Sunday Ticket is blacked out as well," LaCroix said.

"Really the whole state of Minnesota all the way down to Mason City (Iowa) is considered the market."

LaCroix said he didn't know of a Vikings playoff game in the past that had been blacked out and he wasn't sure if the NFL would allow another extension of the deadline (the Arizona Cardinals, who had 3,700 tickets remaining Thursday, were granted another extension until 24 hours before their Saturday afternoon game). The NFL hasn't done that for the Vikings' regular-season games that were coming down to a ticket-purchasing crunch in the past.

LaCroix didn't believe that the Vikings had ever sold over 10,000 seats in one day, at least since he joined the club in 2001.

The last NFL playoff game to be blacked out was in Miami in 2002, he said.

The Vikings have been calling and e-mailing season ticket holders that have not renewed, as well as other ticket buyers from the past and other NFL databases that list Vikings fans. They have also employed other part-timers to help with the push this week.

The Miami Dolphins sold about 25,000 tickets to their playoff game on Monday, and the San Diego Chargers also sold about 17,000 tickets on Monday, LaCroix said.

The Vikings started the week with about 20,000 tickets to sell to avoid a blackout, but they are getting to crunch time now.

"I don't know if the fan base knows what the blackout truly entails. It's a pretty encompassing geographic (location) for the Twin Cities and beyond," LaCroix said.

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