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Minnesota Vikings: 'Preview center' offers look at new stadium

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No stadium. No problem.

The Vikings won't open their new downtown Minneapolis stadium until 2016. But they've already come up with a way for fans to see an exact field view of any potential seat.

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The Vikings and Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment have completed the New Stadium Preview Center and will start bringing in potential buyers later this week. The center is on the fifth floor of the 1010 Metrodome Square Building, across the street from where the Metrodome is being torn down and where Minnesota's new home will be built.

The 7,500-square foot center includes build-outs of two suites. But for the more general fan, the most useful feature is two eight-seat rows in front of a video board providing simulated views.

"There are 275 different panoramic views,'' said Vikings vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix. "So really, every section in the building almost down to the row. In theory, you'll be able to tell exactly what your view is going to be based on to the field, to the video board.''

LaCroix and Jason Gonella, Van Wagner's executive director of new stadium sales, provided a tour of the preview center Tuesday to the media. Fans will get to see it next.

Over the next year or so, the center can be visited by current Vikings season-ticket holders. They will be admitted by appointment in 16 different groups, generally being invited in order of how good the location is of a holder's seat. Each group will be admitted for between three weeks and a month before the next group is invited.

Fans who aren't season-ticket holders likely won't be able to see the preview center until 2015. The Vikings will play the 2014 and 2015 seasons at TCF Bank Stadium before moving into their new home.

"Time is ticking,'' LaCroix said. "We've got 2-1/2 years before we open. It's important that we get the process started.''

Fans will begin their visit by walking through a corridor that features videos of Vikings players in the locker room and entering the field. The presentation room includes models of the stadium and of what downtown will look like when the $1 billion facility is completed.

There are pictures on the wall of Vikings legends and television monitors playing highlight videos. There are some locker-room stalls with uniforms hanging in them.

Of the build-outs, one is a loft suite and another a turf suite. There will be 23 turf suites in the corners of the field that will allow fans to be right on top of the action.

"They're one of a kind,'' Gonella said.

AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, features some suites that close. But LaCroix said they're different because they are two or three feet below field level.

The suite life will not be cheap. Of the 98 suites being offered (perhaps expandable to 116), prices will range from $110,000 to $500,000 a season.

The stadium will seat approximately 65,000. There will be about 3,000 in suites and about 50,000 seats will require buying a one-time Stadium Builder's License (SBL) just to purchase tickets. SBL prices will range from $3,500 to $9,500 for club seats and $500 to $3,700 for other seats. Individual ticket prices will start at $50 per game for some seats that require an SBL, and will be between $200 and $400 for club seats.

That could amount to a hefty investment. But at least fans who visit the preview center will get a pretty good idea of what a purchase would entail.

This article previously appeared in the Pioneer Press Feb. 25, 2014.

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