When word first emerged on Tuesday that the Minnesota Senate had amended the stadium bill to prevent any Vikings games played at the proposed facility from being blacked out, it seemed ludicrous to think that such a stipulation would fly, given the NFL’s staunch insistence on adhering to its decades-old blackout policy.
But then the light bulb flickered. The NFL doesn’t need to carve out an exception to the blackout policy in order to allow the games played at the new stadium to be televised locally. Instead, as part of the Vikings’ contribution to the stadium construction, the team must commit to purchasing — at 34 cents on the dollar — any unsold non-premium tickets.
If the stadium will consistently be sold out for Vikings games, such a commitment will cost the team nothing. And so, at a time when the Vikings are facing the possibility of their share shooting from $427 million to $532 million, why not offer to guarantee a sellout for every game in exchange for holding the contribution to $427 million?
It would be a tremendous P.R. coup for the Vikings.
Of course, the NFL may not prefer that type of precedent, since it would then be used when public money is being finagled for other new stadiums. But it makes plenty of sense. If public money is going to be used, the public should be allowed to stay home and watch the games played in the stadium that it paid for.
And if the NFL is going to operate in a manner that doesn’t give rise to antitrust concerns, the NFL should let the Vikings do whatever they choose in this regard.
For more, here’s a non-blacked-out segment from PFT Live.