Vikings opt in on new local blackout rule

Some of you might be aware of a new NFL rule that allows teams to lower their threshold for achieving a home sellout, thereby making it easier to avoid a local television blackout. The Minnesota Vikings are the first, and I'm guessing will be the only, NFC North team to take advantage.

The Vikings announced they had reduced their "ticket manifest" at the Metrodome, for the purposes of the television rule, by 10 percent. That equates to about 6,000 seats, according to the team, and by my math means the Vikings will need to sell about 54,000 tickets per game to avoid a local blackout instead of 60,000.

The stadium's actual capacity hasn't changed and stands at around 64,000 seats.

The Vikings haven't had a game blacked out locally since 1997, but in recent years they've needed help from local sponsors or been forced to buy back tickets themselves to avoid them. Outside of the usual division opponents, this year's home slate isn't that exciting with games against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The NFL rule has a catch, of course, one designed to force teams to be conservative when estimating how far they should drop what's called their "ticket manifest." Revenue from any tickets sold beyond that total, or in the Vikings' case 54,000, will be shared at a rate of 50 percent with the rest of the league instead of the usual 34 percent.

Most of you probably don't care about the Vikings' ticket revenue anymore, not since they won approval to construct a new stadium last spring. And in the end, this new rule is a different mechanism toward ensuring the same result: The Vikings aren't likely to have a local television blackout this season.