MINNEAPOLIS — Christine Dodson brought her son, Manny, to his first NFL game on Sunday Oct. 18.
Manny is 15 years old and plays linebacker and fullback in his home state of Vermont.
The Vikings became the first NFL team to install the Mamava suites. View photos from the event on Sunday Oct. 18.
The family was visiting Minnesota for the ribbon cutting of a Mamava lactation suite designed by Christine and co-founder Sascha Mayer.
The Vikings became the first NFL team to install the Mamava suites. They will provide nursing mothers with a comfortable and private space to breastfeed or pump when they bring their infants to Vikings games.
"The idea was more than just a space," Dodson said. "It's about doing what's right for women when you're going through this difficult thing. It's about moms who are on the go."
Mayer said exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for six months, but by the end of that time, only 16 percent of mothers are exclusively breastfeeding.
"That's primarily because they don't have the accommodations they need to do," Mayer said.
The business travel by Dodson and Mayer led to some inconvenient locations and spurned the idea for the lactation suites. The space includes comfortable seats and an electrical outlet.
"What I love about that suite, not only is it private and locks, which is the most important thing, but it can be easily spotted," said Erin Swartz, Vikings Marketing Manager — Branding and Digital Strategy. "This is fantastic. It's clean, comfortable, and I'm all for the toddler's seat. It's fantastic, a super exciting day, and I'm glad that what started out as an idea is now actually here."
Swartz said she was advising another Vikings employee about possible places to pump or feed, and it became clear that an alternative option on game days or at Vikings offices would be beneficial.
Swartz communicated to Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren, who has made a commitment to meet with and gain feedback from every Vikings employee, that a dedicated space would be appreciated.
Warren was traveling on business when he saw a Mamava suite at the Milwaukee airport. The Vikings researched the company and worked on a partnership to include installation of the suites this season at the University of Minnesota, as well as suites at the team's Winter Park headquarters and downtown Minneapolis office locations.
The team also will install the suites at U.S. Bank Stadium, which is scheduled to open July 2016 and also include a comfortable lounge area.
"Employees have a voice, we're sensitive to them and respect everyone that works for us," Warren said. "Women are an increasing fan base with the Vikings and the NFL and they deserve a right to speak up, a right to be comfortable and watch our games."
Warren said the commitment "really reiterates what we at the Minnesota Vikings stand for and what the Wilf family stands for: diversity, inclusion, sensitivity and to build the best fan game-day experience."