Well, you knew that the Twin Cities media and the media at large weren't going to let everyone enjoy this whole "division championship" thing for too long, huh? The Star-Tribune has let it be known that
The Vikings announced Monday that approximately 20,000 tickets remain for Sunday's game against the Eagles at the Metrodome. That daunting number shouts out a very real possibility that the Vikings' first home playoff game in eight years will be blacked out in the Twin Cities and many secondary markets.
Although the threat existed in recent years, the Vikings haven't had a blackout since the 1997 regular-season finale. An NFL playoff game has not been blacked out in a local market since Miami-area residents were unable to see the Dolphins play host to Baltimore on Jan. 13, 2002.
The surplus of tickets for Sunday's game, scheduled to be shown on KMSP (Ch. 9), exists because only about 55 percent of the team's 55,000 season-ticket holders elected to buy playoff tickets.
Meanwhile, fans in Green Bay and Chicago were quoted as saying that they wished their team was having trouble selling tickets for their home playoff game this weekend, because that would imply that either of those cities was hosting a home playoff game this weekend.
Of course, the people from ProFootballTalk immediately posted this on their Rumor Mill and used it to strengthen their already well-known stance on Minnesota. . .aka "We hate the Vikings, and we think their fans are all idiots and rubes." But there's a few small caveats that nobody connected with this story has bothered to explain. . .and since there's a pretty good chance that they won't, I will explain them out of the goodness of my heart.
Now, I personally have never held Vikings' season tickets. For the better part of my adult life, I've been too far away from the Twin Cities to make owning season tickets worth my while. The Star-Tribune article says that 45% of the people that own season tickets passed on purchasing playoff tickets. My understanding as to how this works is something like this. . .and if I'm wrong and there are any season ticket holders in the audience, they can feel free to correct me.
Season ticket holders were given the opportunity to purchase playoff tickets a few weeks ago. Here we hit caveat #1. . .nobody in the National Football League knew that the Vikings were even going to be IN the playoffs until about 48 hours ago. Apparently San Diego, a much larger metro area than Minneapolis/St. Paul, has plenty of tickets to move for their game against the Colts, too. . .and they clinched their playoff spot about six hours after Minnesota clinched theirs. Hardly a coincidence.
"So," you may be saying, "just go ahead and purchase the playoff tickets ahead of time, and if the Vikings don't make the playoffs, you get your money back! No harm, no foul. . .right?"
Enter caveat #2. Apparently the stipulation with pre-purchasing your playoff tickets was such that if the Beloved Purple did NOT find themselves in the post-season, your playoff ticket purchase would not be refunded, but rather put towards your season ticket purchase for next season.
Now, I don't know about you, but if I was a season ticket holder and was asked to plunk some money down for something that may or may not happen and was THEN told that I wasn't going to be getting my money back if it didn't happen. . .I wouldn't have pre-purchased my playoff tickets, either. Quite frankly, the economy is in the toilet right now pretty much everywhere, and if I'm going to put down the money for playoff tickets and my team doesn't make the playoffs, then I'd want my damn money back. After all, who says that things might not get worse and I might not be purchasing my season tickets again next season? Would the team refund the money then?
(Disclaimer: That's about as "political" as I'm going to allow things to get here. Please don't try to run any further with it.)
Amazingly enough, Access Vikings has a post up now saying that the Vikings sold 6,000 tickets for the game on Monday. . .you know, AFTER it was known that Minnesota would be hosting a playoff game. Imagine that. . .waiting until after your team actually MAKES the playoffs before purchasing a playoff ticket. Damn crazy Minnesotans. . .where the hell do they get off being all intelligent and resourceful like that?
But, hey. . .this gives places like ProFootballTalk the opportunity to fly their "We Hate the Vikings" flags higher than usual, and it gives lots of people the opportunity to say stupid things like, "Oh, Viking fans suck" and "What a bunch of bandwagon jumpers" and "Man, maybe they should move the team to Los Angeles." Anyone that wants to say that Viking fans are bad fans is a moron, and probably cheers for a team whose players are making tee times at the golf courses of their choice right now.
Honestly, there's nothing to worry about. . .the game will sell out, and people in Minneapolis and Fargo and Bismarck and Des Moines and all points around the map will be able to see the Vikings take on the Eagles. And all of the "we hate Minnesota" types can sit in front of their television sets and say, "Damn, I wish I was watching my team instead of the Vikings. I wish my team was actually better than Minnesota. I wish that I didn't have to hear Dueling Banjos every time I go out of the house."
(Okay, maybe I made that last one up. . .or did I?)
Remain calm. . .all is well, people. Again, regardless of how many tickets are sold in Minneapolis, the game will be on right here, and we'll be covering it.