Workers collapsed the Metrodome this week, leaving the Vikings without a roof over their heads. So, like the good land-grant institution it is, the University of Minnesota offered to host the team for a small fee for the next two seasons while it builds its new stadium. The Vikings and owner Zygi Wilf agreed to pay the University $300,000 per game and up to $3 million each season.
In other words, the University will make millions of dollars in the next few years for hosting the Vikings, while fee-paying students are left wondering if they will benefit as well.
The University has not stated specifically how it plans to distribute this revenue, except to say the revenue will be used to enhance Gophers athletics and invest in the neighborhoods surrounding TCF Bank Stadium.
The student body is still footing the bill for the stadium — about $12.50 per person each semester. As students continue to pay, I’m unhappy with the prospect of the University accepting funds from the Vikings without rewarding the students.
Sunday afternoons around the East Bank will now feature a huge boost in traffic and an influx of Vikings fans. The ensuing headaches alone should upset students. While the University stands to gain from this partnership with the Vikings, the two parties should not leave students in the dark. Spending the allocated funds to the student body’s interests — or at least selling discounted tickets — would at least show the University community that the partnership is in everyone’s best interest.
Potential student benefits
The stadium will have roughly 10,000 fewer seats than the Metrodome, including additional seating for the Vikings. If every Vikings season-ticket holder opts to renew for the coming year, there will not be enough tickets to sell to the general public, making student discounts impossible.
If 90 percent of season-ticket holders — a typical amount — renew for next year, only a few thousand tickets will be available to the public each week. As a result, single-game ticket prices for Vikings games will likely be higher than in previous years.
This will make it difficult for the University to offer ticket discounts to the student body for all Vikings games. But the Vikings could provide deals on preseason ticket packages or parking, or it could provide University student discounts on concessions and apparel purchases.
Using funds to help students
The University could also appease fee-paying students by putting that $3 million per season into programs to strengthen University athletics, including remodeled practice facilities to keep pace with Big Ten competition. Allocating some of the funds to campus security boost initiatives would also be helpful, as more people on the streets each Sunday will only increase crime on and around campus.
The University will make millions off hosting the Vikings over the next two years. It would be in poor taste if students did not also benefit from this partnership.