Officials: Perfect time for Minnesota to host Super Bowl
MAY 07, 2014 3:15p ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Instead of rubber ducks, electronic tablets. Rather than a domed, concrete monolith, a glass-encased gridiron palace.
The landscape has changed considerably since Minneapolis last hosted America's most popular sporting event. But as of Tuesday, the Twin Cities are one step closer to procuring another Super Bowl.
Minnesota's Super Bowl Bid Committee distributed its finalized smorgasbord of selling points Tuesday to all 32 NFL owners. When they meet in Atlanta later this month, they'll hear final presentations and vote for Minneapolis, New Orleans or Indianapolis to host Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, 2018.
"We're ready," said a confident Richard Davis, the chairman of U.S. Bancorp and one of three Super Bowl committee co-chairs.
Officials had tablets with an interactive Super Bowl LII app delivered to each franchise Wednesday. The ultimate, feedback-driven version of Minneapolis' preliminary bid -- submitted April 1 -- details the city's exact plans to meet the NFL's stringent requirements list for entertaining its annual title game.
The committee remains hesitant to release specifics from its lengthy proposal, but its message is clear and concise: it's the perfect time for Minnesota to host again.
"We've been talking to the owners about how it's about time that the NFL broadly carries its game around the country, like a caravan," Davis said. "Let's take this out of the southern states and bring it around to the rest of the world."
The first and only time a Super Bowl was held in Minneapolis, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was three years old. Today, all that's left of it is a patch of dirt upon which crews are rapidly constructing the Vikings' new $975 million stadium.
Twenty-two Lombardi Trophies have been handed out since Washington bested Buffalo 37-24 here Jan. 26, 1992 in Super Bowl XXVI. All but three of those championship contests -- including two in the past three seasons -- took place in the states of California, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana or Texas.
But the league has warmed up to awarding the multi-million dollar event to cold-weather climates. It's up to Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf and some of Minneapolis' corporate leaders to convince the NFL to continue that trend four years from now.
Their ace in play is the Dome's replacement, scheduled for completion by the start of the 2016 football season. A recently erected preview center at the team's temporary offices across the street from the construction site showcases suites and seats inside a state-of-the-art, 65,400-seat complex that's enclosed by glass and steel but gives off the feel of an open-air facility.
New Orleans and Indianapolis, respectively, have an updated Mercedes-Benz Superdome and a six-year-old Lucas Oil Stadium to tout.
"The centerpiece for this story is the iconic stadium," Davis said. " It will be the biggest and the best in the NFL."
The NFL recently has been wont to reward cities and organizations for building new venues. Dallas' AT&T Stadium -- formerly known as Cowboys Stadium -- hosted the Super Bowl two years after its 2009 opening, this year's game took place at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium, first used in 2010, and Super Bowl L will take place inside San Francisco's new Levi's Stadium in 2016.
Minnesota officials, including Governor Mark Dayton, also believe its largest city contains the infrastructure to handle the influx of humanity that comes with the annual Super Bowl melee. The state's Super Bowl committee is planning for 100,000 or more out-of-state visitors, which make for a projected $350 million economic impact.
Even in the dead of an Upper Midwest winter.
When it meets with NFL owners May 20, the city's presentation team will note the Twin Cities' four regional airports and expanded light rail and skyway systems. Local hotels have set aside 19,887 rooms within a half-hour's drive from the stadium, and the city can offer teams indoor practice facilities at the Vikings' Winter Park complex and the University of Minnesota's Gibson-Nagurski complex, which is slated for renovation as part of the school's $190 million athletic upgrade project.
Downtown Minneapolis also features the Target Center, Minneapolis Convention Center and other space that can be used for Super Bowl-related activities. Davis and fellow co-chairs Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Doug Baker declined to dole out specifics to make sure other cities don't catch wind of Minnesota's plans, but did yield that Nicollet Avenue may become "Super Bowl Boulevard" for the week leading up to the game.
Other conjunctive events include a Super Bowl Social Media Center, the NFL Experience and the league's annual Super Bowl Media Day frenzy, which more than 4,000 media outlets are expected to attend. Plans call for Super Bowl goings-on to coincide with other local festivities, too, including the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
The project will require a $30 million-$40 million financial commitment from area corporations, 75 percent of which Davis said was raised in the first week of asking for contributions. The committee has accounted for 85 percent of the funds to date, and Davis isn't at all concerned about the rest of the necessary money coming in.
"I can say to the owners when we meet with them that we are absolutely funded," Davis said. "It's done."
Some tax abatements will be used to finance the project and require legislative approval, Davis said.
Minneapolis has a new arena, corporate backing and an attractive connectivity and hospitality package to sell. But what Indianapolis and New Orleans both possess that the Twin Cities are lacking is experience. The Superdome has served as the setting for 10 previous Super Bowls, the most recent in 2013. Lucas Oil Stadium hosted the mega-contest the year before that.
With the NFL's gargantuan increase in popularity and exposure since Minnesota last hosted, the Super Bowl is no longer a weekend-long party as it was then. The week of is fraught with buildup and foot traffic, and Minneapolis decision makers are planning for at least 100 days of celebration leading into Super Bowl Sunday itself.
The game is that it's so much more than a game.
Minneapolis' next move is to go in front of the NFL owners Tuesday, May 20 and pitch their proposal in person. Each city will make a 15-minute presentation, followed by final pitches from each potential host team's ownership.
The owners will then vote and announce their decision that day.
In helping secure Minnesota's first Super Bowl more than two decades ago, Nelson sent each owner a rubber duck with the message "For a great game and wildlife, play indoors in Minnesota!" the night before they voted.
Tactics have changed considerably since then. But the bubbly former chairman and CEO of hospitality corporation Carlson Companies expressed no doubt the Twin Cities can snag the Super Bowl once again.
"I've been dying to talk to you about the details. They've kind of been worried about me, because I get so excited about it," Nelson said, gesturing toward Davis and Baker, who repeatedly stressed they're not in a position to give too much away until a host city is announced. "We actually believe we're bringing something of great value to the NFL."
Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter