Vikings could've sold Super Bowl tickets to local fans, but... didn't

These Minnesota Vikings fans got a chance to be inside U.S. Bank Stadium at least one time. Isn't that enough?

These Minnesota Vikings fans got a chance to be inside U.S. Bank Stadium at least one time. Isn't that enough? Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Would hardcore Minnesota Vikings fans even want to go to this Super Bowl?

Or would watching the game in person, after coming so close to playing in it, just make them feel like that sad-eyed bridesmaid who keeps insisting everyone takes shots with her?

It's a tough question. Fortunately for Vikings fans, they didn't have to even consider it. The team made the decision for them. 

Here's an interesting WCCO story from January 18. That date is post-Minneapolis Miracle, pre-Philadelphia Filleting, which means Minnesotans still thought their team was on the verge of becoming the first Super Bowl host city to play for the championship. 

The NFL automatically vacuums up a quarter of all available Super Bowl tickets, for distribution to media, corporate sponsors, and other Very Important People. The two teams playing in the game each get a 17.5 percent cut of tickets.

That's what the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots got, to distribute as they saw fit to fans and friends. All other NFL teams, except for one, received 1.2 percent of the tickets.

The exception is the Minnesota Vikings, who, as host team, get 5 percent of the tickets.

Had the team made the Super Bowl, the franchise would've been allotted 20 percent of available Super Bowl tickets.Some of those, a team spokesman said two weeks ago, would go to players, coaches, and franchise staff.

WCCO's report continued: 

But, the Vikings say there will be “several thousand” tickets left for fans available through a lottery. The team will hold a random computerized drawing for season ticket holders later this week. The chances of winning are based on how long a season ticket holder has had their tickets and how many they have. For example, someone who’s had four tickets for 10 years will be entered into the drawing 40 times.

That sounds fair. But because the team fell short of the Super Bowl, and is merely hosting it, there would be no lottery for the Vikings season ticket holder -- regardless of whether she'd bought four tickets for 10 years, or 10 tickets for 40 years.

A team spokesman says the "only... lottery we had scheduled was in the event we were a Super Bowl participant," something the organization communicated to season ticket holders "prior to the NFC Championship."

So, what did the Vikings do with their tickets?

"With the limited number of tickets we were given as the host team, we accommodated the needs of our players, coaches, staff and partners."

Why yes, of course.

The team spokesman clarified that the Vikings don't receive 5 percent of 66,655, the stadium's usual capacity, but of a "reduced manifest," as the NFL "removes seats used for media overflow, suites, and other needs." (As if a suite at the Super Bowl doesn't qualify as a "need.") The spokesman opted to "pass on [giving out] specific numbers."

Let's play around with some, though, just for fun. If the "reduced manifest" cuts the normal U.S. Bank Stadium capacity by, say, 10 percent, the Vikings would've received 2,999 tickets. Even if the NFL's needs somehow gobbled up 20 percent of those 66,655 seats, the organization still got 2,662.

According to a Sid Hartman column from late December, the team had plans for every single one of those tickets before they even had their hands on them.

Vice President Lester Bagley said then that the Vikings were "one of 32 teams that get a small percentage of [Super Bowl] tickets," though he helpfully neglected to mention that Minnesota's "small percentage" was more than three times that of other non-participant teams.

Then came the money quote: "Right now we really don’t have even enough to satisfy our contractual obligations with partners and sponsors."

That ... seems like it's your fault. And not a particularly good reason to shut out the people who buy your tickets, your over-priced concessions, and are paying for your fancy new stadium -- the one you used to land a Super Bowl in the first place -- in more ways than one.

Oh, well, lesson learned. Maybe Vikings fans will get a better shot at tickets when the Super Bowl comes back to town, two or three decades and, at most, one Vikings stadium from now.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the Vikings had previously indicated they would make Super Bowl tickets available to season ticket holders even if the Vikings were not playing in the Super Bowl. City Pages regrets ascribing purported generosity to the franchise.