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Minnesota Vikings Hire Stadium Consultant

Hannah Foslien

The Minnesota Vikings will be breaking ground for their new stadium in the spring of 2013, with opening still projected for the season opener in 2016. There are plenty of things that have still yet to be decided, but the team is taking steps to get some of those issues taken care of.

According to a press release from the team, the Vikings have hired Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment to assist in developing a marketing and revenue plan for the new stadium project. The full text of the release is below.

The Minnesota Vikings have retained Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment's new Team and Venue Services division to assist in developing a strategic marketing and revenue plan for the new downtown Minneapolis stadium project. As part of the assignment, Van Wagner will work hand-in-hand with the team's existing sales and marketing staff to develop an overall partnership platform, including stadium naming rights, to maximize the opportunities for the team as well as the game day experience for Vikings fans.

"We have a very passionate fan base, and the experienced Van Wagner team understands the obligation we have to those fans and our corporate partners in this project," said Vikings Vice President, Sales & Marketing/Chief Marketing Officer Steve LaCroix. "Whether it is through enhanced technology, interactive gathering spaces or other fan amenities, our goal is to create a plan that integrates branding and entertainment opportunities and leads to an extraordinary fan experience."

The project marks the first naming rights assignment for Van Wagner and will be led by Jeff Knapple, who is heading the firm's charge into the team and venue consulting space. Knapple was most recently engaged by the New York Jets and Giants in development of their $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium project, where his team successfully built a five-company partnership platform anchored by MetLife. The platform allowed each partner to specifically tailor one quadrant of the stadium and provide an enhanced fan experience throughout the building.

Previously Knapple led the teams responsible for naming rights and partnership undertakings at Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia), Emirates Stadium (London), Philips Arena (Atlanta) and STAPLES Center (Los Angeles), among others.

"The Minnesota Vikings are a legendary franchise with legendary fans," said Knapple. "The people of Minnesota clearly love their team and will be rewarded with one of the best stadiums in the NFL. We are honored to be a part of the process and can't wait for kickoff."

It appears to me, from this release, that the main job of the folks at Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment is to secure the naming rights for the new stadium. Not sure how many different businesses will potentially be vying for those rights, but I'll be surprised if it doesn't end up with the same company that has their name on the other two pro sports venues in Minneapolis. . .that being the chain of stores that starts with T and ends with "arget." But it will be interesting to see how this develops going forward.