Give some credit to the new owner of the Minnesota Vikings for immediately connecting with his fans. Zygi Wilf, real estate magnate from New Jersey, is already pushing hard for a new open-air stadium for the Vikes. In a very smart, fan-oriented move, Wilf paid $100,000 over the summer so that fans wouldn't have to pay a fee to attend the Vikings' practices.
For Hurricane Katrina relief, the Vikings have already sent five truckloads of supplies for the victims, as well as a $100,000 donation.
Wilf is an interesting character. The son of holocaust survivors, he has built a family business (Garden Commercial Properties) into one of the biggest owners of shopping centers on this continent. Wilf is a very hands-on guy who will let the coaches coach, but is already making his presence known in the organization. As he notes, "I want our players to know that the owners are there to help them out with support…I think it's very important for the players to know that the owners are involved as part of the team."
But Wilf is also working hard to create a strong relationship with Vikings fans, who he refers to as extraordinary and passionate. In the email example above, he has already put together his own declaration of how the Vikings will operate – similar to the ones that Starbucks, NPR, and many Jacobs Media clients have already created.
There's a lot to be said for involving the customer/fan/listener in our businesses, no matter the field you're in (or in the case of the Vikings, playing on).