On the Job: Graphics from Your Own Backyard

How Vomela helped the Minnesota Vikings make a new stadium into a home

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With 70 years of experience, Vomela has provided graphic installations and signage for some of the biggest names in the sports and entertainment industry. Although each project offers its own unique sense of accomplishment, nothing quite matches the privilege of working with your hometown team-in this case, the Minnesota Vikings football team. And being in Minnesota, this story owes much to a heavy winter snow storm. 

It begins in December of 2010, when a fierce blizzard raged through Minneapolis, dumping up to 20 inches of snow onto many areas of the city. Of those afflicted, the former home of the Minnesota Vikings, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, stands out most. Under the weight of nearly two feet of snow all across its rooftop, the stadium’s old dome, built in 1982, finally gave way. If anyone had been inside the stadium that night, it would likely have seemed that the sky was truly falling.

With a proud history and an aging stadium, the Vikings ownership realized it was time to move on from the Metrodome and revive plans for a brand new state-of-the-art facility. As part of a diverse and dedicated construction and design team, longstanding partners, including Vomela, were entrusted with bringing the team’s vision to life. Enter U.S. Bank Stadium.

A Shared History

With its legacy entrenched in the Twin Cities as deeply as the Vikings, Vomela has serviced the community with printed graphics and brand solutions since 1946. Founded as a printing and die-cutting company in the growing river town of St. Paul, Minn., our company steadily grew as our work began to resonate with local businesses. Soon our work had expanded to include a full range of printed graphics and sign solutions, and it wasn’t long until Vomela drew the eye of the Vikings’ management team.

The partnership began small-Vomela assisted in the generation and installation of several concourse murals and field perimeter graphics-but over time the relationship grew. Despite the big name, working for a marquee client isn’t that dissimilar from any other job. The Vikings may be more recognizable, but when you treat all customers with the same professionalism and commitment as a professional sports team, your business will begin to land more high-profile jobs.

Through our work and dedicated partnership with the Vikings, we began to expand our projects with additional sports clients, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Twins. These projects included graphic installations and designs for the Target Center, Mariucci, Williams and Xcel Arenas, along with the opportunity to provide promotional graphics for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game at Target Field.

Built on a foundation of joint accomplishments and an established reputation with fellow Minnesota sports teams, it only made sense that Vomela would be brought on board to add color and personality to the Viking’s next home.

New Stadium, New Graphics

Before the roof collapsed in 2010, talks between the Vikings owner and the city of Minneapolis about a new stadium were already underway. Although discussions had hit a standstill in months preceding the event, afterwards the stadium debate was revived with new urgency, prompting the Minnesota Legislature to approve funding for a new stadium on May 10, 2012.

The Vikings played in the Metrodome through the 2013 season, after which the aging facility was slowly torn down to accommodate the new construction. In the fall of 2014, after much of the main structure had already been established, Vomela was invited to tour the new stadium and provide their professional advice and recommendations for graphic installations. 

Thanks to our expertise and history with the Vikings organization, Vomela won the business in the summer of 2015 and immediately began preparations. In total, our company was tasked with the development and production of more than 30 large-scale murals that would be installed throughout U.S. Bank Stadium.

Working in the Big Leagues

Vomela’s overall capabilities and aptitude for operating at an accelerated pace were traits the Vikings organization valued most. They came in handy over the next year, and proved vital to the success of the overall project.

Hired as the vendor for graphics applications, Vomela worked closely with designers from California-based Sports & The Arts, to help bring their graphics and illustrations to life. Because of the sheer massiveness of the murals, one of the greatest challenges was working with incredibly large file sizes. As with any project however, a successful team rises to meet any challenge.

Sifting through the huge design files, our team at Vomela worked diligently to provide proofs of each mural design in a vast array of materials with as quick of a turnaround as possible. With a finite window between the start of the project and the grand opening of the stadium, it was crucial that our team provide multiple proofs of the end product as swiftly as possible.

After filtering through a wide range of test materials and finishes, Vomela and the Vikings worked together to select the substrates and materials that would allow the graphics to captivate the attention of fans, while also helping them last for years to come. Ultimately, our teams agreed upon using 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3 as the base film for the project, paired with 3M Scotchcal Matte Overlaminate 8520. In cases where the murals needed to be backlit, we used 3M Scotchcal Translucent Graphic Film Series 3630. We’ve had a longstanding relationship with 3M and that helped everyone involved have more confidence in the performance and longevity of the graphics.

With the materials selected and artwork approved, the final step was print production and assisting Sports & The Arts with the installation process. Construction was still progressing on the interior of the stadium, and with the grand opening looming, our teams only had a four-week window to print and install more than 30 murals. We had to make it count.

Wrapping Up

Like most things in life, nothing good comes easy. The same held true for the installation process of The Vikings’ graphics. With murals designated to cover walls in suites, atriums, elevators, meeting halls and more, it seemed as though no two surfaces were the same. As such, our team worked diligently to ensure each substrate was treated, and would provide optimal adhesions for the printed films. 3M even lent a hand, helping us test each surface to confirm they were ready for adhesion.

Following a flurry of ladders, boom trucks, heat guns and elbow grease, all 30+ murals were installed throughout U.S. Bank Stadium. Showcasing stylized interpretations of the Vikings branding, dedications to the Minnesota community and tasteful homages to Vikings legends and current players, each mural is a unique celebration of the team’s iconic history and pride. The murals also tell a story of community, and the great work that can be accomplished between fellow hometown establishments.

U.S. Bank Stadium officially opened its doors on July 22, 2016. Later that September, the Vikings hosted (and won) their first home game against their bitter rival, the Green Bay Packers. Next year, the stadium will be host to Super Bowl LII. As the Vikings continue to make their mark on the National Football League and our local community, Vomela will always maintain a tiny place in their legacy. The key to any great partnership is reliability, consistency and performance. Much like our graphics. 

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Paul Peterson

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