Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goading Likely to Keep Vikings on Air

As of noon Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings had an estimated 14,000 tickets still available for their home playoff game on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. That's down from 20,000 on Monday at noon and likely 14,000 higher than it will be by the NFL extended deadline of 3 p.m. Friday for avoiding a television blackout in the Minneapolis market.

There are a host of reasons why the Vikings have so many tickets remaining for their first playoff game under Brad Childress. The first, and most obvious, is the price. Although the Vikings boasted about the range of ticket prices--"from "$30 to $180"--the average ticket price of $120 is well above what even most Vikings' fans consider a reasonable allocation of discretionary funds for three hours of live football.

Then there is the brand of football being played at the Metrodome these days. The Vikings have cajoled a certain segment of the fan base to buy into the belief that "a win is a win." More discerning fans understand, however, that that's simply not the case. A sloppy win over a B-team, an uninspiring win over a winless team, and a robotic, through-the-motions win over any team is not the stuff of viewable football.

The NFL is about entertainment. Some teams understand that and hire their coaches accordingly. Other teams, like the Minnesota Vikings, believe that enough people can be convinced to attend games in which the home team routinely puts up offensive offensive numbers using the same calls week in and week out, despite having the assets to offer so much more.

For the most part, the Vikings' front office has been right this year, if only by the thinnest of margins. This week, they are working feverishly to play on the conviction of some rabid fans that fans owe the team the purchase of a playoff ticket.

The rallying cry from the buy a ticket club is pathetic in its own right. But it's particularly boorish given the condition of the economy and the plight of many of the fans who will make the decision to purchase ducats to Sunday's game.

Consider the fan who boasted of having purchased his four playoff tickets for $120 apiece despite earning $10 per hour at his job. Prior to taxes and other deductions, the fan earns approximately $20,800 per year. Assuming only FICA deductions (i.e., no deductions for medical benefits that likely do not exist, no child-support deductions, no income tax deductions, etc.), the fan takes home just under $19,500 per year.

Assuming the fan has no dependents, eats Ramen Noodles for every meal and skips one meal a day, and, further, that the fan lives in subsidized housing for which all utilities are paid by the landlord, the fan very generously has approximately $13,000 remaining after food and housing come out of the budget.

We know that the fan has his own transportation and that he must have car insurance in the state of Minnesota. We shall assume, however, that he does not have a loan on the vehicle and that he obtains the minimum insurance coverage. Liability-only coverage, gas for one year at 2008 mean prices, and highly rudimentary maintenance of the vehicle leaves the fan with approximately $10,000 in the bank.

Assuming the fan is never sick enough to visit the doctor and incur a hospital bill, buys no new or even used clothes, has no cell phone, cable, or internet fees, has no other expenses, no retirement savings plan, and, of course, no season-ticket package, the fan has $10,000 in discretionary funds at his avail in 2008.

Of that $10,000, the fan has decided to purchase his four, $120 tickets to the Vikings' game against the Eagles on Sunday. That investment is 5% of the fan's discretionary funds for the year.

Diehard fans no doubt can justify spending 5% of their discretionary income on a playoff game, even if that leads to spending an additional 5% of discretionary income on merchandise, food, and beverage at the same game. Other fans, however, simply see greater value in putting aside such a chunk of money for something that offers greater return. And, when it comes to the Vikings, one can hardly blame them.

Despite the last-second victory last weekend over the New York Giants' B-team, the feeling was absolutely inescapable that the Vikings had played the single most boring game in the team's history. There were two big plays on offense--one a run by Adrian Peterson for a touchdown, the other a pass to Bernard Berrian for a touchdown when the defender fell down. The rest of the game featured such highlights as Naufahu Tahi being tackled in the backfield for a loss and Jim Kleinsasser catching a swing pass for two yards. That was Childress being imaginative. That was Childress attempting to inject some life into the offense and into a bored crowd.

For Vikings' fans not to want to pay a king's ransom for tickets to a playoff game is thus quite understandable. And, until all Minnesotans start to receive a dividend check on the $60 million plus profit that the reportedly revenue-poor Wilfs pull in each year as owners of the Vikings, there certainly is no reason to apologize for not pulling out the wallet to further support a team that benefits greatly from fans merely watching the games at home.

Up Next: How to Beat the Eagles.

No comments: