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Monday, August 22, 2011
Selling tickets at the NFL's 'worst stadium'

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Perhaps you caught the interview Saturday night during the Minnesota Vikings' live broadcast of their preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.

If not, the Vikings posted it on their website. In the video, defensive end Jared Allen is asked if he is excited to return this weekend to the Metrodome, which has a new roof following last winter's well-documented collapse.

"Excited about the Metrodome?" Allen said while laughing. "No. We need a new facility. That's the worst stadium in the NFL."

I'm sure Allen was just toeing the company line, probably one fed to him shortly before the interview. And I fully understand why the Vikings would draft star players into their campaign for a new stadium. But I also think the team must walk a fine line as it inevitably ramps up the stadium rhetoric this fall and winter.

The Vikings have had difficulty selling out the Metrodome in recent years and, in a meeting with reporters last month, vice president of sales and marketing Steve LaCroix acknowledged the NFL lockout had put ticket sales further behind. If you were a Vikings fan, would you rush out the door to go buy tickets and watch a game at what the team itself describes as "the worst stadium in the NFL?"

I'm not trying to nit-pick here. I just think the Vikings have reached a marketing junction that will require some nifty footwork. They understandably don't like their stadium. They need to convince state legislators, through their constituents, to approve the new facility. But they also need to sell out their games in the current building to avoid local television blackouts and presumably give the team a home-field advantage in 2011. We'll keep you updated on that front.