For the two home games remaining at U.S. Bank Stadium in its inaugural season, the Minnesota Vikings hope fans can get a little more comfortable with the technology created for the new building.
“We’ve built this amazing machine. What we need to work on is telling fans,” said John Penhollow, vice president of corporate and technology partnerships.
Added Rich Wang, team director of analytics and fan experience, “We’re trying to figure out how do we get more awareness and trust.”
The Vikings say 95 percent of ticket holders have smartphones, so the team has adapted with their fans. In one change, virtually all game tickets are digital. The Vikings deliver them digitally to fans, and the tickets are bought and sold digitally on the secondary market. That cuts down on ticket fraud and has eliminated the scrum at the will-call window on game days.
Now the team wants to hook fans in other ways: getting them to use their phones to find their seats, order and pay for food, watch replays on demand, watch pre- and post-game interviews and earn rewards for all of it.
Fans who earn points for using their phones can use the points in virtual auctions to win experiences such as field passes and access to areas where Vikings alumni view the games.
Scott Kegley, the Vikings executive director for digital media and innovation, said the team wants to improve on the home-game experience with extra content available only at the stadium through its Wi-Fi. “It’s a fundamental next step for stadiums to offer these things,” Kegley said.
Thus far, only about 20 percent of the 60,000-plus fans who come to the stadium have been using the free Wi-Fi, which requires no password. For the first season, 20 percent is considered successful, Kegley said, acknowledging, “It’s a little bit scary for people to use.”
The team also wants to hear from fans about what they like: team content, venue information or loyalty rewards. “Hopefully, there’s one feature that fans gravitate to,” Kegley said.
The app can direct fans to parking spots before the game, guide them around the stadium, help them find concessions and give them guided tours and information on the artists and artworks in the building.
Zach and Megan Nutzmann are season ticket holders from Blaine who were waiting in line to buy food. The two said they didn’t know about the app or its capabilities. “Just being able to pick up food would be nice, to not have to wait in line,” Megan Nutzmann said.
Dale Hieb of Fargo bypassed the line and stepped up to the express window for fans who ordered and paid on their phones. He’s not a season ticket holder, but he loves the app. “I don’t think people know about it, but everything in the app is user-friendly,” Hieb said.
He was pleased with the service, too, as he picked up his hot bratwurst from the counter. “The good thing is they don’t make it ahead of time,” Hieb said.