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The Wild's first outdoor game: $109 for a bad seat

Last year's outdoor stadium game in Washington, D.C. had ticket prices averaging $508 per seat.

Last year's outdoor stadium game in Washington, D.C. had ticket prices averaging $508 per seat.

Snowflakes gracefully descended onto the players' helmets when they took the ice in Buffalo on New Year's Day in 2008.

By the start of the third stanza, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres were battling for the puck in a full-blown snow storm as 71,000 spectators watched the NHL's inaugural Winter Classic.

Since that game, branded the "Ice Bowl," few Winter Classics have lived up to these winter wonderland conditions. Yet outdoor games have grown into a serious meal ticket for the NHL. It's about the only time American sports fans en masse pay attention to pro hockey.

NBC's nationally-televised games average less than two million viewers. By comparison, the 2014 Winter Classic at the University of Michigan was watched by more than eight million viewers.

On February 21, the long awaited Minnesota game arrives, pitting the Wild against the defending champ Chicago Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium. Unfortunately, most of us won't be among the 50,000-plus in attendance. Ticket prices have already surpassed the wallet of the general peasantry.

The cheapest ticket can be had in the lower bowl corners, where spectators almost flush with the ice will struggle to see the puck, despite coughing up $109 per seat.

A centerline perch jumps to $359.

The most expensive seats, at $449, are located in the rarefied air of the upper deck outdoor club section. At least most of the costliest "brown" seats are situated between the blue lines.

First dibs are afforded to Wild, Blackhawks, and University of Minnesota football season ticket holders. The general public will get its crack at a yet-unknown date. And if recent history is an honest measure, prices will appreciate.

Fans attending January's game between the Capitals and Blackhawks in D.C. paid an average of $508 per seat.

Last week, Stubhub had 22 seats for sale. The cheapest, located in the upper deck corners, came with a $385.50 asking price, while the spendiest were almost $540.

Jeffrey Johnson has attended about 1,000 NHL games over his lifetime. He also owns captainticket.com, which sells sports, concert, and theater tickets.

Last season, Johnson sold tickets to both outdoor games. He says Wild-Blackhawks tickets on the scalpers' market are artificially high at the moment, with sellers spitting out a number, hoping for takers.

"If I had clients looking for tickets, I'd tell them to wait," he says. "The hype for this thing right now is very high, and the market has yet to take hold. "

Prices might eventually temper due to the venue, however.

"It's not a great stadium," says Johnson. "I've heard people who've gone to Vikings' games there say that. That's the first bummer. It doesn't have great sight lines, meaning by no means is it a state-of-the-art stadium.

"But both fan bases will be totally into it. Chicago fans travel well and we all know what hockey means to Minnesota. I'd say it's now too early to say what prices will be. By November I think you'd see a leveling off. I don't think the prices will be crazy."