BLOOMINGTON, MN -- Minnesota Vikings fans can now purchase team apparel and memorabilia at a vending machine here in the Mall of America, the nation's second-largest shopping mall. The machine vends shirts, footballs, trading cards, logoed rubber bands and bobbleheads among other memorabilia. Prices range from $5 for the rubber bands to $25 for a shirt or hat.
MainGate Inc., the Vikings' apparel partner, installed the vender in the megamall on Sept. 23 hoping that it will catch on with its six other NFL clients.
If the vender draws enough traffic, Steve LaCroix, vice-president of sales and marketing for the Vikings, said he hopes to deploy more of them at additional sites, including the team's Metrodome stadium.
MainGate's other NFL clients include the Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams.
Separately, Leo Kane, the NFL's vice-president of consumer products, told the Associated Press that the league and Reebok, its official outfitter, have been discussing selling some of its products in vending machines for more than a year and hopes to have machines up and running by the end of this season.
If MainGate demonstrates success with the Vikings vender, Kane said he will spread the word among the 31 other teams and explore the best strategy to roll the vending program out in more places.