On any given Sunday, fans attending a Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium can tap into top-notch technology to enhance their gameday experience.
Upon stepping through a virtual geofence, they can receive a push notification reminding them to pull out their phones, which through digital ticketing will get them in the building quicker.
An app will help them find their seats and get food and drinks delivered there. Stadiumwide Wi-Fi will help them update fantasy football lineups.
And if they are too consumed by their phones to, you know, watch the actual game, the giant LED video boards in the end zones will let them know when to cheer and then show them, in high definition, what they just missed.
“It’s not for us to say we’re going to be the most advanced [NFL stadium],” said John Penhollow, Vikings vice president of corporate and technology partnerships. “If you look at the individual pieces we’re talking about, it is done elsewhere. People have great Wi-Fi. Some people have great LED boards. It’s all been done before in different executions. That said, the way we are bundling everything together, we think it will be a very unique and powerful experience.”
Wireless connectivity is not the flashiest of technological features, but it is perhaps the thing that is most essential, especially to the most tech-savvy fans.
With about 2,000 Wi-Fi beacons and 1,300 access points, U.S. Bank Stadium will have full Wi-Fi access throughout the building, something that is still not available at some other NFL stadiums, typically older ones. The Wi-Fi network will be strong enough to accommodate all 66,200 fans even though the peak number of unique visitors should be roughly half of that.
And partner Verizon opted to install a neutral-host antenna so customers of other phone companies will have equal access to their cellular networks, too.
“We don’t want you to actually stare at your phone the whole game,” Penhollow said. “However, when you do need your phone, it better work.”
To accommodate those who stray from their seats during the game, U.S. Bank Stadium will have more than 2,000 high-definition Samsung televisions displayed in the concourses or mounted in their luxury suites. It also boasts 16 video walls, with up to 16 televisions clustered together, throughout.
And Daktronics, based in South Dakota, designed more than 25,000 square feet of LED boards that will be found both inside and outside the stadium.
Two LED ribbons will line the stadium bowl, displaying statistics and game information as well as advertisements. Behind each end zone is a massive video board. The one in the west end zone is the biggest at 120 feet by 68 feet.
“They’re not the biggest [video boards]. We’ll be in the top 10 [in the NFL]. But it wasn’t about trying to make the biggest board,” Penhollow said. “They are really low. You’re not going to have to strain your head to look up.”
For fans who don’t feel like constantly checking their phones for updates on their fantasy football teams, LED boards visible inside the stadium bowl will flash NFL scores and weekly stat leaders. For fantasy football diehards, “Club Purple,” one of U.S. Bank Stadium’s several premium lounge areas, will also be there to serve as the stadium’s “fantasy football headquarters,” per Penhollow.
Outside the stadium is the Legacy Ship, which the Vikings hope will be one of its “iconic” features. Made by Daktronics, the Viking ship has a 60-foot-tall mast that holds a 2,000-square-foot curved LED video board. The screen will display Vikings-related content on gameday to fans entering the stadium.
Penhollow also trumpeted the team’s new app, which was released for iPhones in late April and is expected to be available for Android phones in June. He said the old app was “robust with football content,” but it “had no utility” when it came to the gameday experience for Vikings ticket-holders.
The new app includes digital ticketing options, eliminating the need for paper ticketing and making entry quicker, though fans who prefer to have physical copies of their tickets can still get into U.S. Bank Stadium that way.
The app includes a map feature that pinpoints your location inside the stadium and can give you step-by-step directions to your seats or guide you to your favorite eatery, the nearest first-aid station and other locations.
Fans can also order food and drinks with the app and have them delivered to their seats, though the Vikings will roll out that feature in stages as they work out any kinks with Aramark, their official food and beverage partner.
Collectively, the Vikings believe that these technological options will make Sundays even better for the thousands of fans who choose to use them.
“We think we have been able to address what a lot of you guys as fans have been asking about,” Penhollow said. “All this will enhance your experience, and we really think we’re going to blow the doors off of expectations.”