SBJ/May 26-June 1, 2014/Facilities

Vikings get quick start on suite sales, eye Super Bowl boost

Don Muret
The Minnesota Vikings are off to a quick start selling suites for their new stadium. Three months after opening a preview center in the Twin Cities, they have moved more than half of the available inventory, and last week’s announcement that the 2018 Super Bowl is coming to town will only help sales efforts.

The team had already sold 49 suites last week before the announcement, according to numbers provided by Jason Gonella, vice president of team and venue services for Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment, the team’s sales agency.

There were 36 suites remaining to sell that are not reserved for team sponsors, said Jon Barthelme, the firm’s director of new stadium premium sales.

The Norseman Suites, shown in a rendering, have proved popular for the Vikings.
Photo by: HKS

Nearly 120 suites are planned for the stadium. The 12 suites on the Valhalla Level, a short 17 rows from the field, will go to the team’s founding partners as deals take shape over the next several months, Van Wagner officials said. Some of the suites remaining to be sold on other levels will also go to sponsors.

Elsewhere in the premium categories:

Norseman Suites: The most popular inventory by far are these suites on the main concourse, situated 35 rows from the field on the south sideline. Van Wagner has sold 21 of those 27 units. They cost $200,000 to $275,000 annually. Norseman Suites have 12 seats and come with 18 tickets. The six extra tickets are for bar-stool seating and standing room.

The lack of availability to buy Valhalla Suites one level below, the affordable price point and the sideline location drove Norseman sales, Gonella said.

Field level: Two varieties of suites are available in this category but one, the Touchdown Suites, has already sold out. The eight Touchdown Suites, in the east end zone, sold for $200,000 to $250,000 a year and come with 14 to 18 seats. The remaining field-level inventory are the 23 Turf Suites along the south sideline 20 to 30 feet behind the Vikings’ bench. As of last week, 10 were sold. Prices are $180,000 to $265,000 annually.

Most have 12 seats. The two corner suites have 25 seats, Gonella said.

Loft Suites: On the stadium’s highest premium level, 10 of the 47 Loft Suites are sold. The 12-seaters cost $110,000 to $180,000 annually. All suite products come with some level of all-inclusive food and drink, a major point of difference compared with other teams’ suites, where catering is a separate fee, Gonella said. Suite terms are four, seven or 10 years depending on the product and location.

To date, 57 percent of Vikings’ suite holders at the old Metrodome have bought suites for the new stadium, Barthelme said.

> LAKERFRONT PROPERTY: The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Rossetti to design their new practice facility in El Segundo as the NBA team moves to consolidate its team and business operations in the same location.

The Lakers intend to build a 100,000-square-foot building on five acres they have tentatively bought from the developer of a mixed-use project next door to the property. The team is working toward closing the deal, which involves city approval for a zoning amendment of the property, by the end of the year, said Joe McCormack, the Lakers’ senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer.

The Lakers practice at Toyota Sports Center, also in El Segundo about 15 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles. AEG owns the facility, shared by the Lakers and the AEG-owned Los Angeles Kings. The Lakers’ business staff works at a smaller building a few hundred yards away, McCormack said.

The Lakers’ organization has grown over the past few years, driving the need to find more space to house both the front office and players with better amenities, including a larger weight room, McCormack said.

It’s a trend seen throughout the NBA over the past decade with many teams building new practice facilities. In El Segundo, the new facility will also serve as the home of the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ NBA Development League club. The D-Fenders play home games at Toyota Sports Center, which accommodates 360 for games. The larger space will accommodate about 1,500 spectators, according to the project description.

Detroit-based Rossetti designed the Los Angeles Clippers’ practice facility, which opened in 2008 in Playa Vista, Calif.

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


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