Worshiping at the Church of Football

US Bank Stadium
(Charles Hallman/MSR News)

The cost to attend a Minnesota Vikings game is, in a word, costly. One ticket is equivalent to a couple of car notes or cable bills, or for some of us at least a month’s worth of groceries.

Our front-page story this week on the affordability of attending Vikings games (part of our “People’s Stadium” series) points out that the average overall cost to fans to see a game at the new stadium located on the edge of downtown is over $500.

Our front page story covers the ticket prices (averaging $92 each, $200 for the “good seats”), the pricey food (even for hot dogs and burgers), and all the other bells and whistles associated with these games. The total cost is out of range for most Blacks and even some Whites who I know.

As one fan told me, it’s no wonder the stadium’s official name is a bank: “You have to have a bank to get here,” noted DeMann Seals of Andover.

Team Marketing Report (TMR) points out that the average ticket price for an NFL game is almost $93. It’s $91.67 in Minnesota, up nearly eight dollars from last season. TMR’s Fan Cost Index (FCI), which factors tickets, food and parking to attend a NFL game, cites the average NFL FCI as $502, up almost $22 from a year ago. It’s around $500 for Viking games, a $20 increase from last season.

“It’s not realistic for a family with kids,” said fan Tina Seals of Andover.

One could say that this cost is because the Vikings have a new stadium, but their FCI has steadily gone up for several years now. According to the 2016 TMR Report, pro football is the most expensive among the major men’s pro sports, followed by hockey ($62.18), basketball ($55.88) and baseball ($31).

But let’s briefly go beyond the cost factor. Vikings games are virtually segregated both by affordability and by race.

A Black stadium worker — most workers seen there are Black — told me that during an on-field assignment while he looked up in the stands, it looked like “White heaven,” a contention that can’t be argued with based on what this reporter’s eyes have seen. But then again, the team’s name is White-themed and even the logo is White.

So unless you are wrapped up into football, which I am not, the atmosphere inside and outside the new Vikings stadium gives this reporter an uneasy feeling. It has all the feel of a religious service, but not the kind I regularly attend each Sunday.

The stadium’s exterior, with its traditional Nordic roof and its expansive tinted glass facade, makes the 1.75 million square foot building easily look like a cathedral, a church of football.   An outside billboard reminds Vikings fans to “Wear Your Sunday Best.” Fans arrive early like they are attending Sunday School dressed in purple, complete with purple-painted faces. Some wear golden horns on their heads. Others wear player jerseys as if worshipping their helmeted gods.

Horns are blown endlessly during the game like Jack Benny in The Horn Blows at Midnight.    Fans act like programmed robots whenever the home team scores, standing to a silly “Skol Vikings” song that blares through the speakers, treating it like some call to worship.

Finally, it’s akin to what the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, that 11 am on Sunday is America’s most segregated hour, although he wasn’t referring to the NFL.

The only thing missing is the offering plate, which is unnecessary because if you are at a Vikings game, you already put your money in — and plenty of it.

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.