Vikings contingent embraced winter as part of Super Bowl bid
MAY 21, 2014 10:00p ET
Few Minnesotans want to think about snow, ice or wintry activities after the seemingly endless winter the state just endured, one of the coldest on record.
The Minnesota Super Bowl committee took the opposite approach. The committee responsible for the state's bid for Super Bowl 52 made the winter and cold a central part of its presentation to the NFL. There was no shying away from Minnesota's frigid reputation or the ongoing bias in NFL circles against cold-weather located Super Bowls.
So, Minnesota's group simply chose to embrace the cold.
"We just hit it right on," bid committee co-chair Richard Davis said. "We said, 'We do winter better than anyone else. Come here, on purpose, for the winter.'"
The NFL listened.
Davis and other members of the committee returned to Minnesota Wednesday and celebrated their winning bid with a press conference at Governor Mark Dayton's office in St. Paul. The Twin Cities were awarded the Super Bowl in 2018 over New Orleans and Indianapolis.
Instead of downplaying the weather, Davis and his committee members want to put on a show for the rest of the nation when the NFL descends on Minneapolis and St. Paul in 2018. The St. Paul Winter Carnival will be held at the same time.
Plans have already been made for a large ice castle to be built.
"It's got to be cold enough to build the ice castle but not so cold as to freeze everybody out of the stadium," Dayton joked Wednesday. "That's going to take some fine calibration and whoever is governor in 2018 will be directly responsible for that."
Minnesota's Super Bowl committee has thought of it as a means to showcase the state's hearty embrace of outdoor activities in the cold.
"Can you imagine the visual with that castle?," bid committee co-chair Marilyn Carlson Nelson said. "I mean, no one else has anything like that. We're very excited to have the whole St. Paul Winter Carnival already agreed to build on and have the sculpture competition related to football and sport."
New Orleans had never lost when it bid for a Super Bowl. The weather and atmosphere in New Orleans are a proven Super Bowl winner.
Minnesota isn't proven, even though the Metrodome hosted the Super Bowl in 1992. But the NFL has started to reach out to Northern locations.
Detroit's Ford Field was a Super Bowl site in 2006. Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl in 2012. New Jersey held the Super Bowl this year with good weather for the day of the game, only to be hit by a snow storm a day later.
Vikings' vice president of public affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley remembers it well. Bagley was in New Jersey for the Super Bowl to get an advance look.
"A great event, great day, great weather, the next day it snowed four inches and my plane was delayed nine hours at LaGuardia," Bagley said. "We do 14 inches and we don't even miss a beat. We've got a great airport and all those things factored into the decision."
The Minnesota contingent felt empowered in selling the outdoors as part of their "Built for the Bold" campaign. Vikings' owners Mark and Zygi Wilf had met numerous times with the other NFL owners. There was no concern about the weather.
"We knew from talking to the owners and talking to (commissioner) Roger Goodell and talking to the leadership of the NFL that the weather was not going to be an issue," Bagley said. "They were not going to make a decision based on weather. So we just said, 'Let's embrace it and let's show them what we have to offer.' We do winter well."
“It's got to be cold enough to build (an) ice castle but not so cold as to freeze everybody out of the stadium. That's going to take some fine calibration and whoever is governor in 2018 will be directly responsible for that.”
Minnesota's Super Bowl committee embraced the cold weather but touted the ways the state handles the elements. Of course, there's the new nearly $1 billion indoor stadium being built, the miles of skyways downtown and the Mall of America.
Many details will still be developed, but planning includes transforming the outdoor Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis into "Super Bowl Boulevard."
"Our theme was built for the bold and it really worked," Carlson Nelson said, later adding: "The wonderful thing for us is that the more we bragged about our community, the more we loved it and the more we felt like we deserved this."
Davis sees the opportunity of embracing the weather as the perfect introduction to the Winter Olympics, scheduled to begin the week after the Super Bowl in 2018.
"We're going to get the whole world thinking about what it's like," Davis said. "Imagine the NBC television cameras panning away while they're going to commercial break and they'll see someone on the Loppet (Minneapolis' torch-lit cross-country skiing event), or they'll see someone building an ice castle, or they'll see people skating on the lakes, or even curling. We might do that in places you wouldn't expect, like on NFL Boulevard."
Winter as a selling point? It was a bold move that paid off for Minnesota's Super Bowl committee.
"We're going to celebrate winter like no one else can," Davis said. "It's what we do. We do it better than anyone else. So we're going to welcome people here for that wonderful celebration and we're going to welcome them back for all of the winters beyond that to come back and be a part of this."
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