News of Matthew Stafford's contract extension broke about 20 minutes into Tuesday's SportsNation chat, forcing an audible that allowed us to resume chatting on the blog after I gathered some thoughts. But during our short time over at SportsNation, we touched on at least one topic that merits further discussion and clarification:
Robert (London (already tailgating)
As a season ticket holder, I'm a little peeved at losing a home game this year. 1) Are the Vikings expected to play annual London games until the new stadium is open? 2) Do you see overseas games as a good marketing tool for the Vikings?
Kevin Seifert (2:09 PM)
I would expect more than this year's game in London. The Vikings will have reduced revenues while playing at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014 and 2015, so it makes them prime candidates to seek new revenues elsewhere. It would be a big surprise if they continue international games once the new stadium opens in 2016.
To clarify, Vikings vice president Lester Bagley has told media outlets that the team plans first to evaluate its 2013 game in London, against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4, before making further plans. But Bagley did not rule out games there in 2014 and/or 2015. Frankly, it makes too much financial sense to assume the Vikings will do anything but push for at least one more appearance in the International Series before their new stadium opens in 2016.
Playing in London does offer the Vikings a chance to market themselves to a new fan base. But the real issue is they won't lose much, if anything, by giving up a home game at the Metrodome and TCF Bank Stadium. NFL teams keep local revenues generated by club seats and luxury boxes, but both stadiums offer relatively little revenue for the Vikings in that regard and, based on what we heard last fall, can more than be made up for through other streams in London.
The NFL needs willing teams to populate its International Series, and the Vikings are among the franchises that would be hurt the least -- financially, anyway -- by playing across the pond. It's true that the Vikings lose the advantage of a true home game, and their fans will see seven regular-season games instead of eight, but, well, so it goes.