London Vikings game a ‘hook’ to plug state business, tourism

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Meet Minneapolis Executive Director Melvin Tennant was a member of the 24-person delegation that traveled to London for the September 29 Minnesota-Pittsburgh football game. But he was there for more than watching the local NFL club play a regular-season contest.

“I had the opportunity to represent Meet Minneapolis [the city’s convention and visitors’ bureau],” Tennant told the MSR last week after his return from the week-long trip to England. He added that the traveling party included both Minneapolis and St. Paul mayors; representatives from the convention and visitors bureaus of St. Paul and Bloomington; and Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism office.

“Also, as part of that delegation was Greater MSP, the regional economic development organization,” noted Tennant. “We all saw this as an opportunity of the Vikings game as a hook, to allow us to get some high-level exposure for

Melvin Tennant Photo by Charles Hallman
Melvin Tennant
Photo by Charles Hallman

Minneapolis and the region.

“Our goal was to try to make the media aware of our presence. Both mayors were active in doing numerous interviews with general-interest publications, business publications — [they] also had interviews with CNBC and with the Wall Street Journal.

“During the course of the week,” continued Tennant, “I’m sure we touched at least 50 or more clients in various meetings. Now that we’ve all returned, we will be following up and making sure those clients do influence travel decisions to Minneapolis and the region.”

The game actually served as “the culmination of a week of activities by being able to take several of our customers to the Vikings game at Wembley Stadium,” he said. As head of the city’s convention and visitors’ bureau, Tennant is a frequent traveler across the country for the City of Minneapolis seeking more convention business.

The MSR asked him to briefly assess his London trip. “The United Kingdom is a very mature travel market for Minnesota,” Tennant reported. “It helps that we have non-stop service to London from Minneapolis, and that really opens up a lot of opportunities for us. I think that made it possible for us to have a successful week in London.”

Tennant also was impressed with Wembley Stadium’s “big, wide concourses, and they had a nice variety of concessionaires and food service. The service was good. Considering that we are in the process in this community of building a new stadium, it’s nice to see some of the features of that stadium. We learned a lot from what we saw.”

The Minnesota Timberwolves are scheduled to play a regular-season game in Mexico City in December. Tennant says that plans to travel there have yet to be determined, although it could occur.

“It’s a great opportunity to perhaps go to Mexico City for a couple of reasons. One, it’s because we have an emerging Latino population in Minneapolis, and I think there is a great tie there. But also we have a Sister City relationship with a city called Cuernavaca, Mexico, which is less than 100 miles from Mexico City. Our [Meet Minneapolis] team has met with the Timberwolves. There are a lot of reasons why we would want to look to doing a promotion in Mexico City, but those plans are not yet firmed up.

“Everyone I’ve talked to was very pleased with the result,” concluded Tennant. “We used the Vikings game as the hook, but the reception that we got was very, very positive from the members of the [London] media, the various travel and tour operators that we met with.”


More on Melvin Tennant’s London visit in Sports Odds and Ends on this week’s MSR sports page.

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