SBJ/March 3-9, 2014/Facilities

Vikings’ field-level suites will not include seats in the bowl

Don Muret
The Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium will feature the next generation of field-level suites and a twist on the seating package.

The HKS-designed facility will have 23 Turf Suites built exclusively along the south sideline, each tied to an indoor suite and a 130-square-foot outdoor patio on the field. The suites are 20 feet to 30 feet behind the Vikings’ team bench, closest to the players in the NFL, project officials said.

In Arlington, where HKS designed AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, the field-level suites include a private stairway for those patrons to walk upstairs and sit in premium lower-bowl seats for an unobstructed view of the game. But in Minneapolis, the Turf Suite package does not extend to additional seats in the bowl, said Jason Gonella, vice president of team and venue services for Van Wagner Group, the team’s sales agency.

Rendering shows interior of the Vikings’ planned field-level suites. HKS found users of similar suites at AT&T Stadium spent little time in bowl seats that came with the package.
Photo by: HKS
The twist came as a result of feedback from HKS after its experiences at the Cowboys’ facility. According to the architect, the majority of field-level suite patrons spend most of their time in their indoor space and on the patio entertaining guests, Gonella said.

Vikings field-level suite holders who prefer seats in the bowl can make a separate purchase of a Stadium Builder’s License tied to club seats with access to a field-level lounge, he said. Field club licenses cost $9,500 and season-ticket prices are $400 a game.

“We can certainly adapt if there is any issue and incorporate [lower-bowl] tickets into the package, but based on the initial feedback, the response to what we have now has been overwhelming,” Gonella said.

The Turf Suites cost $180,000 to $275,000 a season depending on location. They carry terms of four, seven and 10 years and seat 12 to 25 people.

Turf Suite holders receive a combination of seating, tables and drink rails set up in both hospitality spaces, similar to AT&T Stadium, which in 2009 became the first NFL facility to open with field-level sideline suites.

By comparison, the Vikings’ eight Touchdown Suites, designed at field level in the east end zone, have three rows of seats above the field wall.

“There’s not a lot of real estate down there to do the field concept because it’s [going to be] tight with photographers and cameras,” Gonella said. “They are at event level, but there is a little bit of a rise in the first row” of seats.

The Touchdown Suites are priced at $180,000 to $225,000 annually and seat 18 to 23 people.

> SMOKIN’ AT STAPLES: The new Smoke House barbecue concept at Staples Center has provided a major lift in food and drink sales for arena owner and operator AEG and concessionaire Levy Restaurants.

Bar sales are up 37 percent and food receipts up 57 percent for the outdoor space in the upper deck after the first month of operation, said Lee Zeidman, Staples Center senior vice president and general manager.

AEG alone invested $250,000 to convert the old City View Terrace into the Smoke House. The old space was underperforming and it was time for a refresh as the arena turns 15 years old this fall, Zeidman said.

Levy sells beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches plus one side for $13.50. Side dishes and desserts cost $3.50.

Draft beers cost $10 to $11.75, wine is $9 and cocktails $10 to $11.

The 9,500-square-foot space overlooks L.A. Live, the entertainment district across the street from Staples Center.

> DEPARTURES: President Chris Lencheski and senior vice president of sales and marketing Lee Stacey have both left Front Row Marketing Services, confirmed officials with Comcast-Spectacor, Front Row’s parent company.
 
Peter Luukko hired Lencheski in November 2011 to lead and build out new divisions at the agency. Luukko, Comcast-Spectacor’s former president and chief operating officer, left the company in December.

Stacey had been employed with Front Row since November 2012.

John Page, recently promoted to president of facility management firm Global Spectrum, Front Row’s sister company, and one of Comcast-Spectacor’s senior executives, was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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