Delta Air Lines renewed and expanded its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings, gaining the naming rights to a field-level lounge featured at the team's new stadium.
The firms on Tuesday announced the new agreement, extending Delta's role as the team's airline, which began in 2009, to 2021.
Delta will get its name on U.S. Bank Stadium's field-level lounge, which the team has been referring to as the Field Club. The 21,000-square-foot space, extending behind the Vikings bench from one 30-yard line to the other, will be named Delta Sky 360 Club. Access to the club requires a membership and will have the most expensive non-box seats in the venue.
Delta will have permanent signage inside and around the club. It will also have an exclusive LED sign during each home game and digital ads on both the team's website and its mobile application.
"You get this really first-class view and then our brand is everywhere. So you start to equate the two," said Andy Zarras, Delta's vice president of operations and customer service in Minneapolis. "It helps us expose, in a positive way, our product and company brand to the public."
A $400-a-game club ticket gives guests a chance to watch the action off the field, as well. The club will have views of the Vikings player tunnel and postgame news conference room.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Delta gains a larger presence with Minnesota's professional football organization than with the team in its hometown, Atlanta.
Delta ended its sponsorship with the Atlanta Falcons in 2009, citing a shift in focus to major league baseball sponsorships. Delta has Sky 360 Clubs at ballparks around the country, including the homes of the Twins, New York Yankees, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves.
As for football, the airline recently renewed its official sponsorship of the Seattle Seahawks. The company sponsors a club experience, albeit not at field level, at Seattle's CenturyLink Field.
"Delta's sports marketing strategy makes economic sense," said Prof. John Vrooman, a sports economist at Vanderbilt University, because it gives Delta fairly inexpensive advertising hits with the "relatively affluent air travelers" it is targeting.
The airline's history in the Twin Cities predates the company name. Delta bought Northwest Airlines, which was based in Eagan, in 2009. Over the past seven football seasons, the airline has flown the Vikings players, coaches and staff more than 115,000 miles.
Sponsorship of the Vikings does something else, Zarras said: It instills pride in the company among its Twin Cities employees. "The Vikings are legendary in the eyes of many of our employees," he said.
Kristen Leigh Painter • 612-673-4767