On-field fine, work to be done on business end

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — On the field, the Minnesota Vikings are about 90 percent of the way to where new club president Gary Woods wants them to be.
In the business office, though, there’s still about 80 percent of the way to go, Woods told an audience on Wednesday at the Technology Expo for Small Business.
That likely will translate into higher ticket prices for Vikings fans and more sponsors’ names splashed across the Metrodome and other Vikings-related items.
“For those of you who go to the games, you can expect some price increases,” Woods said. “An incremental increase can mean the difference between success and failure.”
The club has commissioned a study of the Metrodome’s seating prices, Woods said. The study is expected to take a couple of months and club officials will announce the new prices next spring.
“In every category, our ticket prices are very low,” Woods said, adding that general admission single-game tickets range from $23 to $45, with some $53 tickets available, the 29th lowest in a league of 30 teams.
Dave Mona, owner of the Minneapolis public relations firm Mona, Meyer & McGrath, said the Vikings are in a favorable position to raise prices.
“There’s never a hospitable way to raise ticket prices,” he said. “But it’s better to do it coming off a winning year … than a losing year.”
The Vikings were undefeated in the preseason and are 3-0 so far in the regular season, after beating Detroit 29-6 on Sunday.
The team’s lease at the Metrodome is among the worst in the NFL, providing the team 10 percent of concession sales, no parking revenue and limited signage and suite possibilities. That lack of incoming cash, an issue the Vikings have been bemoaning for two years, often blocks them from paying the big up-front bonuses it takes to sign big-name free agents.
The club’s first choice would be to get a new stadium, but Woods said that it could make do with the Metrodome if some major renovations were completed between January and September.
Red McCombs, a businessman from San Antonio, Texas, bought the team for about $250 million this summer.
Fans should hope to see more sponsors’ names decorating the Metrodome suites, the now-white envelopes that tickets come in and anywhere else names could go, Mona said. More sponsors may mean less need to raise ticket prices, he said.
“The Metrodome may look like it’s got lots of advertising, but compared to other stadiums I’ve seen in the past two years, it’s not that much,” Mona said. “Clearly, more people are starting to look at stadiums like race cars.”
Still, Mona thinks Vikings fans would support an increase.
“From what I see around the league, they’ll probably reshuffle the deck,” he said. “They’ll take a look at their stadium and carve it up a little differently. Some seats will stay about the same, some will go up and a few may go down. Ironically, what happens in stadiums almost always is that the highest priced seats go first.”