Minn. 'celebrates winter' in final Super Bowl bid

MINNEAPOLIS - Organizers of Minnesota's bid for the 2018 Super Bowl submitted their 180-page pitch to NFL owners Wednesday. The bid was sent to owners on iPads donated by locally owned Best Buy and a major theme is celebrating winter.

Plans include turning Nicollet Mall into NFL Boulevard, showing off the Loppet, ice castles and other events that could be planned in coordination with the big game.

"We have every reason to believe we've got an excellent chance," said Doug Baker, CEO of St. Paul-based Ecolab.

Baker is one of three private sector executives selected by Governor Mark Dayton to co-chair Minnesota's bid. The others are Richard Davis, CEO of US Bancorp and Marilyn Carlson-Nelson, former CEO of Carlson Companies.

Carlson-Nelson also led Minnesota's last successful Super Bowl bid in 1992.

"I don't remember many times in my life where my heart was beating so hard and so fast," said Carlson-Nelson.

Some "secret weapons" are being held until a final bid presentation before NFL owners later this month, but by highlighting winter the committee hopes to turn a perceived negative for Minneapolis into a positive. The winter Olympics will also take place in February, 2018.

A new Vikings stadium is currently under construction, which many believe makes Minnesota the front-runner to host the game over the other two finalists, Indianapolis and New Orleans.

"I do think there has been a clear pattern that the NFL rewards cities that invest in new stadiums," said Baker. "But it isn't a done deal and you need to compete."

Organizers believe the Super Bowl will bring in 100,000 visitors to the state and $350 million in economic benefit.

As part of the bid, organizers will also highlight potential business opportunities for the NFL, with Minnesota boasting more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other state.

"I think they are excited we have so many headquarters here," said Carlson-Nelson. "Many of our companies haven't had relationships with the NFL so that's a fantastic opportunity for the NFL to develop new relationships."

The committee co-chairs will travel to Atlanta on May 20 for a final presentation before the NFL's 32 owners. A vote will take place that day.


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