SBJ/August 13-19, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Plugged In: Mark Wilf

Minnesota Vikings President and co-owner Mark Wilf talks about technology, increasing access for fans and corporate partners, and what it will be like for the team to play in three different “home” venues in the years ahead.

Photo by: GORT PRODUCTIONS
The talk about our corporate sponsors being partners, certainly at the highest levels, is something that we’re really going to have to emphasize. Whether that’s broadening our access on the field, our entertainment network or tweets — these touch points like locker room access or coming through the facility on an off day are a lot bigger. You get almost immune to it when you’re in the business, but it’s still much bigger than you think.


The part of pro sports most in need of innovation:
Fan experience. We’re in the process of getting a new stadium. What we’re going to be looking at very, very hard is to touch people and get them out of their seats. Their in-home experience is so good right now. We’ve got to make going to the games something exciting, something different, something that’s going to stimulate them technologically.

How to incorporate that into the new stadium: It’s a little scary because we’re going to pour a lot of time and investment into the technology sector … but are you going to be at the tail end of the old wave or the beginning of the new wave? A lot of that is going to be a function of timing and luck.

The team’s stadium path: We’re going to be two years at the Metrodome, two years outdoors [at TCF Bank Stadium], the University of Minnesota stadium. In ’16, hopefully, we’ll be at the new facility back at the Metrodome. We’re building right at the same location.

What about those interim years?: Another whole set of challenges. Outdoor games. We’re going to be renovating that stadium as a part of the deal: putting coils in the field and things of that sort; upgrading the capacity. It’s still going to be lower than what we have now.

Finding the right employee: We’re fortunate in sports business because we get the very best to apply, but I think then you have to bring them in and I think culturally show them that you do impact winning, that you do impact the team. … You try to create that atmosphere for people who sell the tickets, service the club, whatever they do — they feel like they’re impacting the team. Whatever you do, if you don’t allow them that ability, I think you just create a little less passion, a little more disconnect.

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