SBJ/Feb. 24-March 2, 2014/Facilities

Vikings put game-day feel into sales center

The Minnesota Vikings open a preview center this week that takes season-ticket holders through a Disney-like experience tied to the field-level club at the team’s new $975 million stadium.

Starting Wednesday, sales agency Van Wagner Group starts marketing the venue’s 98 suites, 8,000 club seats and 60 loge boxes. The team and the agency worked together to convert space on the fifth floor of a historic building in downtown Minneapolis, across the street from the stadium site.

Prospective buyers walk down a 90-foot corridor lined with video screens.
Photo by: ANDY KENUTIS / MINNESOTA VIKINGS
The 7,800-square-foot preview center is large by industry standards, more than twice the size of the San Francisco 49ers’ 3,500-square-foot marketing center for Levi’s Stadium.

The center encompasses two mock suites, a 24-seat club seat mockup and two small models of the stadium. One model shows the stadium’s placement next to Ryan Cos.’ proposed $400 million mixed-use development.

Six of the preview center’s 37 high-definition televisions have touch-screen technology enabling premium-seat buyers to walk themselves through offerings for Stadium Builders Licenses and club seats.

The centerpiece is a two-minute video simulation that envisions the game-day experience at the new stadium by taking season-ticket holders and potential founding partners down a 90-foot-long corridor lined with eight 84-inch high-definition television monitors.

The virtual experience starts by transporting patrons to the Vikings’ locker room before they join the players as they walk down a tunnel to the field. It ends with fans standing at a drink rail at the Fire and Ice Club, the field-level club on the stadium’s south side.

To create the simulation, Van Wagner Big Screen Network shot original video last year at the Vikings’ practice facility and during early-season games at the Metrodome, said Jason Gonella, the company’s vice president of team and venue services.

The scenes include Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph banging his helmet-clad head against the screen and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” blasting through speakers. The song’s lyrics “we come from the land of the ice and snow” connect to both the region’s climate and the working title for the club, Gonella said.

As the virtual piece concludes at the end of the corridor, a glass door slides open to the preview center laid out with the new premium-seat inventory. The video simulation “sets the tone” for the rest of the experience, said Steve LaCroix, the Vikings’ vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer.

“The field-level concept is such a unique dynamic to the marketplace that we thought it was important to build that out,” Gonella said. “As the client walks in, the video is triggered by a motion detector and then the show starts. It’s sort of [the same] preamble to a Disney ride.”

In addition, the preview center’s ample space covers four “closing” areas and 10 more spaces for private conversations, Gonella said.

All told, the layout allows Van Wagner’s 20-person sales staff to run multiple presentations at the same time, streamlining the process for meeting with potentially all 13,000 season-ticket holders.

“We could run 20 unique presentations at the same time, which we thought was compelling and will help drive our process effectively,” he said. “Not everybody will come down here, but it becomes a cumbersome process if we would have to do these little one-offs.”

To ensure an orderly process, officials separated the Metrodome into 16 zones and are proceeding zone by zone for season-ticket holders to buy seat licenses. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment on weekends.

The cost of the preview center was in the low seven figures, covered mostly in the stadium budget. The team paid cost overruns for the project, LaCroix said. It took three to four months to build.

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