The Minnesota Vikings unveiled their plans for an interactive fan experience in the new U.S. Bank Stadium. That part of the stadium is still under construction but expected to be ready for immersion by the preseason opener on Aug. 28.
Just above the team store inside the stadium will be the Vikings Voyage, a space that covers about 10,000 square feet where fans will be able to test their athletic skills against a player’s speed or leaping ability with virtual reality elements of the players, along with fans testing their knowledge of team history.
“We have been waiting months to unveil this to everybody,” said Tanya Dreesen, the team’s Vice President of Partnerships and Special Projects. “This is such a special place for us in the stadium.”
Vikings officials figure about 250 fans will be able to comfortably fit in the Vikings Voyage fan experience at once, but only fans with tickets to Vikings games and events will be able to enter the fan experience. They will also have to schedule their time using the team’s web site or mobile app. Reservations are expected to open starting in early or mid-August and the hours of the Vikings Voyage will coincide with the hours of the team store in the stadium on game days, which will likely open about four hours before a game and stay open for several hours after the game.
Fans can also enter the Vikings Voyage during games, and screens will show the game during that time, too.
In the Vikings Voyage, fans will be able to compete against other fans and learn about team history. Four athletic contests, along with life-size Purple People Eaters forms and a full-sized Vikings ship hull are a few of the key features.
Here are some of the modules being constructed within the Voyage:
- 1,000 Catches is a space that honors Cris Carter’s career with 1,000 chrome-plated footballs hanging from the ceiling.
- The Forge celebrates the Vikings of the past and present.
- Prove Your Honor is the virtual reality experience. Fans can put on helmets with virtual reality goggles and field passes from a Vikings quarterback Connectix Technology that monitors the movement of a fan’s hand during the catch. “We’ve all been Monday morning quarterbacks or in this sense a Monday morning receiver and said we could make that catch,” said Erin Swartz, Vikings Director of Creative and Brand. “Let’s see what it’s like now when you have the true intensity and the speed and the pressure of being on the field and catching that ball. What is that really like?”
- Battle Armor will feature full uniforms from 1969, ’89 and today. OLED screens will allow fans to learn more about the uniforms and the technology involved with designing them.
- Forging Strength allows fans to hit a blocking sled that will measure the strength of the hit they can put on the pad.
- The Fleet and Tides of Victory celebrate community and fans with a 40-foot-long ship that has a 20-by-7-foot screen to display “the heart of what it is to be a Viking,” according to Swartz.
- Become a Legend allows fans to sit on the bench with forms of the Purple People Eaters on the bench in a space the Vikings hope will encourage social media interaction.
- The Fight is “an icy space” to represent “endurance, will and the thrill of victory,” Swartz said.
- Sky to Valhalla is a place where fans can measure their jumping ability and compare it to receivers in Vikings history.
- Speed Prevails allows fans to compete in a shuttle run against another fan and a virtual reality player’s pace that will be represented by a light strip down the center lane. The Vikings player’s time will be drawn from their NFL Scouting Combine performance.
- Lore of the North will display items from team history that have been in the attics of fans or in the basement of Winter Park, like pieces of the goal posts from Met Stadium that were torn down by fans or ticket stubs from the Vikings’ inaugural season in 1961.
- The Halls of Valhalla is the final module where fans find out how they performed athletically or in quizzes and compare scores with family, friends and leaders.
Vikings officials figure it will take 30 to 45 minutes for fans to go through the Voyage, depending on how many events a person wants to experience.
“We built all of these items as modules so we can learn and grow from them as we go,” Swartz said. “We can add new ones, we change out content.”
Signed waivers will be required for those participating in the athletic events, but The Voyage is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
RFID bands that keep track of a fan’s score can be taken home as a souvenir.
The experience was shaped in part by Vikings officials touring other fan experiences around the NFL, along with other venues like Yankee Stadium. The Voyage cost “several million dollars,” according to Dreesen, but was all privately funded.