ST. PAUL, Minn. - The first footing hasn't even been poured on the new Vikings stadium, but the push is already on to secure the 2018 Super Bowl and all the financial benefits that accompany the marquee event.
The one and only time Minnesota hosted the NFL championship game was in 1992, when Washington beat Buffalo in the Metrodome. It was deemed the first successful cold-climate Super Bowl, after a less than stellar outcome in Detroit.
"We've proven in Minnesota already that we know how to handle a cold weather location for the Super Bowl, and it'll be – unlike this Sunday – it'll be indoors," Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters, comparing the new enclosed Vikings stadium with the open roof Met Life Stadium in New Jersey where the 2014 Super Bowl will be played.
On Monday, Dayton announced that a concerted effort is underway to bring Super Bowl LII (52) to Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018.
Heading up the campaign to win over the NFL are three longtime Minneapolis-St. Paul business leaders: Doug Baker, CEO of Ecolab, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, former CEO of Carlson companies, and Richard Davis, CEO of U.S. Bancorp.
Carlson Nelson headed the recruitment efforts that brought the Super Bowl to Minneapolis 22 years ago, and said she's happy to be involved again. Baker said that 1992 Super Bowl was the only one he's ever been able to attend.
"I was a driver taking our clients around from venue to venue," Baker recalled.
"And somebody sneaked me a ticket at the last minute, so I was able to walk in for the second half. And it was a thrill of a life time."
The bid committee will visit New Jersey Friday and meet with NFL officials and owners, the ones who'll have the final say. They'll also attend a reception hosted by the Vikings on Saturday. Gov. Dayton had planned to join them for one of those meetings, but cancelled those plans so he could work on the propane supply shortage in Minnesota.
Vikings executive Lester Bagley said that for six weeks he's been working through the 190-page bid specification document issued by the NFL for cities that want to bid for the Super Bowl and all the tourism revenue it generates.
"It used to be just a game, then if became a weekend," Bagley said.
"Now it's a weeklong celebration that has events every single day. And a 100,000 people coming to the market, plus the people going to the game."
Bagley said the "hospitality infrastructure" is a major factor for the NFL, and the Twin Cities should be well situated.
Melvin Tennant, the executive director of Meet Minneapolis, the city's convention and tourism bureau, said the NFL needs to know that a certain number of hotel rooms will be available four days leading up to the event.
"One of the first requirements was making sure we do have the adequate number of hotel rooms, which blankets the entire metro area. And I believe that number we've actually committed so for far is about 19,000 rooms."
Davis said the community, with all of its Fortune 500 companies, should be able to raise the money it will take to put on the game and all of the peripheral events.
"It's like in Hollywood they say, 'I'm ready for my close-up' or "Put me in coach.' We're ready for our close-up and we're ready to get this show on the road," Davis said.
Prize worth capturing
"The Super Bowl is the most watched annual event in the world," said Dayton.
"Hosting the Super Bowl would bring enormous economic benefits to many Minnesota businesses, as well as provide a terrific opportunity to again showcase Minnesota to the world."
Dayton pointed out that city leaders in Indianapolis estimated the economic impact of the 2012 Super Bowl at $325 million. He predicted that Minnesota can expect to gain far more than that from the 2018, plus the positive exposure of a worldwide spotlight.
He said the bowl bid committee will include Baker, Carlson Nelson, and Davis, as well as Melvin Tennant and Katie Clark Sieben, the Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, or MSFA, and the Vikings organization will also have representatives on the panel.
While southern venues can boast warmer weather, the new stadium will feature translucent ETFE plastic roofing so that natural lighting can enter the temperature controlled stadium.
"If you remember, 60 percent of the roof is going to be ETFE, so the sunlight will come in. You'll feel like you're sitting outside," MSFA chair Michele Kelm-Helgen told reporters.
"As you look toward the downtown with 500-foot doors that pivot toward the downtown, if the weather happens to be warm enough."
The committee was formed after the National Football League's October announcement that Minnesota is one of three finalists to host the Super Bowl in 2018. The other finalists are Indianapolis and New Orleans, a city that has hosted 10 Super Bowls in the past.
The group will put together a full and detailed proposal to bring the game to the new Vikings stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2016. The final selection will be announced in May following the NFL Owners Meetings in Atlanta.