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Volume 21 No. 1
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Legends, Vikings talk sales as stadium deal nears approval

Don Muret
The Minnesota Vikings’ arduous journey to build a new stadium turned in a positive direction last week after the team reached a tentative agreement with city and state officials to build the facility in downtown Minneapolis.

There is still a long way to go before dirt starts flying. No deal had been signed, and public financing for the $975 million stadium needs to be approved by the state Legislature and City Council, said Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs and stadium development.
Against that backdrop, the company responsible for marketing new stadiums for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers has made contact with the Vikings about helping them sell personal seat licenses and premium seats for their prospective home.

Chad Estis, president of Legends Sales and Marketing, has had initial talks with Vikings ownership for outsourcing sales of suites and club seats, said Dave Checketts, chairman and CEO of Legends Hospitality Management, the sales group’s parent company.

“There have been no substantive discussions,” Bagley said. “As a club, we have not decided whether we are going to use PSLs as part of the financing package. Any conversations we have had [with Legends] have been strictly preliminary.”
Legends and the Vikings share a common thread: Leonard Wilf, vice chairman of the NFL club and the cousin of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, owns a minority share in the New York Yankees. Those ties led to Estis reaching out to the Wilfs about an opportunity to work together down the road.

“We have great respect for [the Wilf family] and hope to have a business relationship,” Checketts said.

Legends would also be interested in operating the food service at a new Vikings stadium, he said. Legends Hospitality runs concessions and premium dining at Cowboys Stadium, Yankee Stadium, FC Dallas Stadium and six minor league ballparks.

The 7,000-square-foot Budweiser Patio at Petco Park will be open to all ticket holders.
BUD NATION: The number of Budweiser-branded outfield destinations continues to grow across Major League Baseball. To date, 11 are set to be in operation for the 2012 season, five of them new.

Among that group, the San Diego Padres are building the 7,000-square-foot Budweiser Patio at Petco Park, a new outdoor bar in left-center field open to all ticket holders. The layout with drink rails and high-top tables can fit 350 people, said Tyler Epp, vice president of corporate partnerships.

A shuffleboard table could be part of the mix as the Padres promote the space as a singles hangout, team officials said.
The area was known as the flag court, a flat space with flags from all 30 MLB teams flying above the outfield. The flags will be moved behind the patio, said Tom Garfinkel, the Padres’ president and chief operating officer.

The patio is part of Budweiser’s multiyear extension with the Padres. The brewer restructured its deal, taking full ownership of the large fixed sign above the upper deck in left field. Two years ago, Bud shared the same billboard with Toyota and Sycuan Casino. Last year, the sign was branded with the Padres’ team logo tied to a military theme. In turn, Toyota has increased its brand exposure on the Toyota Terrace Level, the premium-seat level behind home plate. The casino received inventory elsewhere in the park, Garfinkel said.

All those moves are part of the Padres’ strategy to remove sign clutter and provide greater value for their biggest sponsors, he said.

The Budweiser Patio will be ready by April 5 for the Padres’ regular-season home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

PERSONNEL: AECOM has hired Steve Terrill, a former design principal with HKS. Terrill designed Florida Atlantic University’s new stadium, which opened in October in Boca Raton. Terrill will remain in Richmond, Va., and pursue sports projects on the East Coast. … Skanska USA, the firm that built MetLife Stadium, hired Tom Tingle as senior vice president and national director of its sports group. Tingle, an architect by trade, has worked for several sports design firms in Kansas City and will remain there with Skanska. He was most recently employed with Intelligent Engineering, a British firm that produces stadium seating decks.
Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.