Close-up: Patrick Talty, General Manager at U.S. Bank Stadium
From 29 August to 1 September, ESSMA will organise its Global Stadium tour to several venues in Miami and Minneapolis. Patrick Talty will show participants around the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Recently, ESSMA interviewed Patrick Talty, General Manager at the U.S. Bank Stadium about the day-to-day operations.
What are your day-to-day duties at U.S. Bank Stadium on match days and non-match days?
On non-match day, I am responsible for the overall operation of the facility from cleaning, security, maintenance, and marketing. As General Manager of the stadium I work in conjunction with the owners of the facility, the primary tenants of the stadium the Minnesota Vikings, and the City of Minneapolis in making decisions related to the operation of the stadium. I really value the importance of building a successful team from the ground up and I make sure that I meet all our potential full-time staff during the interview process.
On match day, I spend a lot of time walking around the stadium ensuring that our service expectations are being met by the staff, and making sure all the processes we’ve put in place are going as planned. I’m always looking for more efficiencies and service excellence on our match days. Rewarding employees that are going above and beyond is something that we work hard to do at U.S. Bank Stadium, so I’m always keeping my eye out for that employee that’s going above and beyond and providing great customer service. I check the windows at the main entrance to the stadium before every major event to make sure they’ve been cleaned from at least 15 feet down; good customer service starts from the moment the guest walks in and we want their experience to be perfect right from the start.
Employee engagement is key to providing great customer service, we have developed a comprehensive employee rewards and recognition program.
How large is the team you work with?
47 full-time managers and a total of 75 people when you include our full-time cleaning and maintenance staff. On match day, it requires roughly 3,000 people to run the stadium.
The stadium opened last year, on the same location. How did that impact the whole operation?
Well, the advantage to building on the same site from a traffic perspective was that people already knew how to get to the stadium and they knew where their parking would be. Being on the same site in an urban setting is restrictive in that you only have so much space to build. Hiring the building the management team began well before the construction was complete so you had to put a lot of processes and plans together without having seen how the building operated, which can be a challenge.
Was there specific training for the staff, in order to prepare them for the new stadium?
You start with an all new staff because there was no carry over from when the previous stadium was there, the training to prepare staff for a new stadium was very extensive from wayfinding and directional, to policy and procedures. Everything was completely brand new training.
The stadium has some exclusive hospitality areas, can you give some examples of the hospitality offers?
We have seven different premium areas, and each of them have unique offerings that are specific to that space. One focuses more on the fantasy football fans, there’s another club that is geared towards a very corporate client and feels geared towards a business professional. The food and beverage offerings vary, some of the premium offerings are all-inclusive and some are a la carte. The variety of premium areas allows the patrons to make the experience what they want. In addition to the 7 clubs we have a full complement of private suite options ranging in sizes and levels, including suites that are right on the pitch. These all offer high-end food and beverage options that allow for the suite owner to pick foods and beverages that suits them.
I really value the importance of building a successful team from the ground up and I make sure that I meet all our potential full-time staff during the interview process.
At our previous USA tours we saw that the ‘American experience’ is quite different than what we are used to. Can you present the different SMART/Technology aspects at U.S. Bank stadium to further improve fan experience and engagement?
We have a complete WIFI and DAS system which allows fans to stay connected to their mobile devices from anywhere in the stadium at all times. We’ve ensured that the bandwidth for patrons to use can handle the volume guests at our major events. All our TV’s are connected through an IPTV system, this allows us to customize and provide different messaging and entertainment features throughout the building. We also have integrated team and building mobile applications for guests that allow guests to order food from their mobile device, purchase tickets, or find their seat all right from their phone! In addition, the fan facing technology features, there are a lot of back-of-house technology features that allow for efficiencies in our overall operations.
In Europe, we are more and more looking at ways to incentivise both staff and fans. Can you tell us more about how you are working on this?
Employee engagement is key to providing great customer service, we have developed a comprehensive employee rewards and recognition program. This program starts at the top of all organizations that work at the stadium and is filtered throughout the organization. We recognize employees who are living SKOL Service with lapel pins for them to wear as recognition of their great work. Next, we try and surprise our employees with breakfast at work days and small gifts like blankets and scarves, and hot chocolate on cold event days. Most importantly, we have developed a comprehensive training program that all stadium employees go through that focuses on customer service and fan engagement, ensuring that they have the tools they need to be successful.
We will visit the U.S. Bank Stadium during our Global Stadium Tour. Why should ESSMA members join the tour to Minneapolis and Miami: what would you like to show to the delegates or which takeaways would you like them to take home?
The versatility of the U.S. Bank Stadium that allows us to host things such as X Games, concerts, basketball, baseball, football and Soccer – not all stadiums are designed with such diverse events in mind. Along with the versatility of the building, the high-end finishes throughout the entire facility are not limited to just the clubs and suites, high-end finishes are located throughout the stadium even on the main concourse.
One of the criticism fans have is that new venues all look quite familiar to one another and lose their specific atmosphere. We will be able to attend a game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Which kind of atmosphere can we expect?
U.S. Bank Stadium is unique to the Minnesota Vikings, you will know that you’re in Vikings territory when you come to a game here. From the traditions that have been created, to signage, to the food offerings, it truly represents the bold north.
The fan facing technology features, there are a lot of back-of-house technology features that allow for efficiencies in our overall operations.
You were at the previous ESSMA Summit in Lyon, France. What did you take with you?
My takeaway for the 2017 Summit would have been the facilities in the United States and Overseas all deal with a lot of the same issues. Facility maintenance, safety, employee engagement are all common themes that you deal with any venue you no matter where you are.
You have worked at several venues in the USA and even in Abu Dhabi. You must have seen numerous stadiums throughout the world. Which one has really made an impact on you and why?
From a historical standpoint, Camp Nou had the most impact on me. It was amazing to me to think of all the history that has occurred in that building and all the passionate fans that have been there. From a crowd atmosphere Stamford Bridge was one of my favorites, it was truly electrifying there.
However, U.S. Bank Stadium wraps the fan excitement into the striking architecture of the facility, creating a memorable match day experience and is quickly becoming of my favorite stadiums.