A wrestling promoter and executive from New York City was named Tuesday as the new general manager responsible for managing the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
Patrick Talty currently is senior vice president of live events for World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE). He comes with a career history in both facilities and events management. What drew him to Minneapolis, he said, is the combination of leading the opening of a new stadium, working with the Vikings and joining global sports giant SMG.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, with the Vikings, has selected SMG to operate the stadium, slated to open in summer 2016 in time for the NFL season. The $1.1 billion stadium is under construction on the east end of downtown.
"I'd opened a stadium once before and loved that," he said Tuesday. Minneapolis offers strong fan support as well as business support "for the community as a whole," he said.
Since mid-2012, Talty has worked for WWE, a wildly popular entity that is expanding globally and has launched the careers of many entertainers under the direction of businessman Vince McMahon. In the past year, WWE moved to online streaming of matches, a major shift in how fans access its shows.
That "fan experience" is considered critical to the success of the new Vikings stadium. The team wants to provide a venue that's enticing enough to draw fans out of their living rooms, where they can watch games on their big-screen TVs with their fantasy football devices by their sides.
"Our focus is going to be to make this stadium as alive as we possibly can 365 days a year," Talty said.
Talty, 43, will start Monday. His wife, Becky, and four kids ages 7-16 will be moving with him to Minneapolis. Talty, an Air Force brat who graduated from Virginia Tech with an accounting degree, considers Fairfax, Va., his boyhood home. He also studied for his MBA at Ball State University in Indiana. While there, he said he learned from his work at the recreational center that he wanted to combine his love of sports and recreation with a business career. He landed his first job at the now-extinct RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
Ever since, he's worked in stadium, arena and sports management. From 2009 to 2012, he worked in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, as general manager of Zayed Sports City, a multivenue complex with a 45,000-seat soccer stadium. The Vikings and the MSFA are competing to land a pro soccer franchise for the new stadium.
During his time in Abu Dhabi, the Zayed venue oversaw several major sporting events, including the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup, the 40th UAE National Day Celebration, and the first WWE Raw World Tour.
Before that, Talty worked as the assistant general manager, overseeing booking and sales, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The Arizona Cardinals play in the facility, which was host to the 2008 NFL Super Bowl, the BCS National Collegiate Championship and the 2009 NCAA West Regional Men's Basketball Championship.
'Turning over every stone'
Minneapolis' new stadium will be the site of the 2018 Super Bowl, as well as the 2019 men's NCAA basketball Final Four.
"We were extremely impressed with Patrick's expertise both with live events and with the NFL," said Vikings owner Mark Wilf.
Once he arrives in Minnesota, Talty said he will be "turning over every stone" to book the new stadium.
To relax, Talty said, he spends a lot of time with his family and keeps in touch with friends all over the world. He likes to bike, downhill ski and run, although he says his physique doesn't always reflect his commitment to working out.
He likes to read inspirational, leadership and management books and is currently reading "Death by Meeting" by Patrick Lencioni, which tries to teach leaders to run energetic meetings rather than tedious and unproductive ones.
Talty calls himself a hard worker who likes to "create a fun atmosphere" on the job. According to his Twitter feed, he's also a fan of homemade ravioli, cinnamon buns and good coffee.
SMG also runs McCormick Place & Soldier Field in Chicago, the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Houston's NRG Park and the Superdome in New Orleans.