MINNEAPOLIS –The ribbon cutting at U.S. Bank Stadium ushered in a new era of Vikings history, and a number of fans had the opportunity to experience it.
Along with the Vikings new home, the 2016 season is also highlighted by the new Vikings Rewards program. Fans who register for the program are able to earn points under their account and then exchange those points for a number of unique perks that included pairs of tickets to the ribbon-cutting ceremony at U.S. Bank Stadium Friday.
Brad Kolling of Maple Grove, Minnesota, was thrilled to redeem his points for a chance to see the stadium on its grand opening.
"This is a huge deal," said Kolling, a Season Ticket Holder since 2003. "The Vikings Rewards program has a ton of potential things you can get out of it, and this event was really a big deal, to get a pass for the opening of the new stadium. Other rewards programs pale in comparison to this."
Kolling works in a downtown Minneapolis building near the stadium site, and he said being able to watch the 31-month-long construction project made Friday's event even more special.
"It's great to finally be in this state-of-the-art stadium that we've been hoping to be in for a long time," he said. "I've seen the Metrodome go down, I've seen the stadium go up, all in front of my window. It's pretty exciting."
View images from the ribbon cutting event to mark the historic opening of U.S. Bank Stadium Friday.
Sara Strand, who works in the Sales & Engagement department for the Vikings said she has enjoyed seeing fans rewarded in such unique ways.
"I think what's important about this program is it's encompassing a lot of the offers we already have available to fans and rewarding them for what they're already participating in – for coming to games, for listening on the radio, and then offering them unforgettable experiences," Strand said. "To be a part of the ribbon cutting today is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these fans, and they're the first season ticket members to enter the completed stadium.
"It feels really good to give back to the fans," Strand said.
The Vikings Rewards program is open to the public, and fans can register for an account online. The rewards system is set up by levels – first-time fans will be identified as a "rookie" and have access to all the rewards on the Rookie level; levels go up from there to additional categories such as Veterans and Starters.
Season ticket holders like Josh Groll will automatically be placed in the "Hall of Fame" section of the rewards program and receive 5,000 points, which they can use for items and experiences. If an individual purchases a 10-game package, he or she will be in the "Pro Bowl" section.
Strand and the Sales & Engagement team have been soft launching the program and trying out different facets. The stadium opening was one of the first rewards offered. Within 45 minutes of rolling out the option for ticket holders, all the allotted tickets were claimed.
"Knowing that, it just helps us develop the program," Strand said. "We know that experiences are going to be the hot-ticket item."
Groll, whose family has been season ticket holders for 22 seasons, also used his points from the rewards program.
"It's a nice benefit to get to use instead of getting a camping chair or a T-shirt or something," Groll said. "They were easy to get, and it's just awesome. It's a great event, and I'm excited to see the stadium.
"I was born and raised in Minnesota," he added. "I played football; I coach football; football's kind of in our blood. The Vikings are, without a doubt, my favorite team, and it's going to be really worth it when they finally win that Super Bowl."