The Minnesota Vikings are taking steps to make going to football games a bit easier for breastfeeding mothers.
The team announced Tuesday it's installing two portable lactation "pods" at TCF Bank Stadium for fans to use, and two more at its Winter Park headquarters for its employees to use.
The free-standing units are made by a Vermont firm called Mamava, which says its lactation suites "offer nursing mothers a safe, clean, functional, and beautifully designed space to pump/nurse when they are away from home or at work."
The Vikings say they'll also include breastfeeding suites at the new US Bank Stadium, which is under construction.
“Creating a family-friendly environment and a positive experience for all fans at our football games is paramount to the Minnesota Vikings,” said Kevin Warren, the team's chief operating officer. “While we certainly encourage breastfeeding mothers to nurse where they feel comfortable, we have become increasingly aware of the need many moms have for the privacy and comfort that these Mamava lactation suites provide."
The pods are 4 feet by 8 feet. They have benches, an electrical outlet for plugging in a breast pump and a door that can be locked for privacy. There's enough room for a woman with small children or a companion.
Sports writer Michael Rand at the Star Tribune calls it a "smart move" on the part of the Vikings. He notes that as the father of an 18-month old, he has "watched his wife search in vain for quiet and secure places to use a breast pump and/or breastfeed."
The Vikings are the first NFL franchise to install lactation facilities at a football stadium, according to the announcement, although Mamava said on its website that some of its units are located at Fenway Park, the home of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox. They've also been installed at several airports, including just recently at Milwaukee's airport.
The pods are expected to be installed at TCF Bank Stadium in time for the Vikings-Chiefs game on October 18. They'll be available for fans of other events as well, including Gopher football games at The Bank.