Destination 2017: Minneapolis-St. Paul

Last summer, the Minnesota Vikings opened the massive, 95-foot-high doors to their highly anticipated new stadium and welcomed football fans on game day for the first time. With a price tag exceeding $1 billion, U.S. Bank Stadium’s soaring, angular glass architecture and super-close-to-the-action seating secured the venue headlines—as well as gigs hosting the 2018 Super Bowl and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four in 2019.

Although it didn’t attract as much attention, there’s one feature of the new stadium that may be the biggest symbol of the city’s future fortunes: 33 purple leather couches, located in the stadium’s Mystic Lake’s Club Purple, set up specifically to cater to the needs of fantasy sports fans.

Fantasy sports—in which fans assemble imaginary teams of athletes and earn points based on those athletes’ actual performances on game day—have boomed in popularity in recent years. The number of fantasy sports participants in North America has more than doubled since 2009, reaching 57.4 million in 2016, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. These participants don’t just follow their favorite teams—they’re interested in every team from which they have an athlete on their imaginary roster. As a result, they are voracious consumers of sports information, sports data and related technology. But their obsession also makes them reluctant to leave the comfort of their own homes, where they can more easily juggle multiple stat-streaming devices.

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