ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gov. Mark Dayton took some political heat back in 2011 and 2012 for making the new Minnesota Vikings stadium a major priority, but on Wednesday he basked in the glow of the NFL's decision to schedule the 2018 Super Bowl game in Minnesota.
"I read that never in Super Bowl history thus far has a home team played in the Super Bowl," Dayton said, as he turned to the team's co-owner Mark Wilf.
"Let's make it the Vikings in 2018. You can start sooner than that, but we want our hometown team in our home town stadium!"
Dayton hosted a press conference at the State Capitol to bring more attention to the work of the local bid committee, fresh back from a meeting of NFL owners in Atlanta where they secured Super Bowl 52 for the Twin Cities market.
"Imagine the NBC television camera panning away while they're going to commercial break, and they'll see someone on the Lopet, or someone building an ice castle, or they'll see someone skating on the lakes, or even curling," Richard Davis, US Bank's top executive and a member of the winning bid team, told reporters.
He said the Minnesota business community had already pledged $30 million toward the effort to host the game, and the host committee expects to raise all the money it will take to handle logistics, security and snow removal
The Minnesota bid team wowed the NFL owners with a "Go Bold" theme, and brought images of different venues across the metro area including a 18,000-brick ice castle to be constructed as part of St. Paul's Winter Carnival.
One drawing depicts a huge tent covering a two-block area slated to become a new city park as part of the Downtown East development adjacent to the new stadium. Davis said it will serve as party central in the days leading up to the most watched sporting event in the nation.
"We showed them effectively instead of having a convention center right up next to the stadium we'll create our own. And they loved that idea."
Wilf said the new stadium, being financed jointly by the Vikings, the State of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis, was a major factor in the NFL owners decision.
"Super Bowl 52 in 2018 will give us that opportunity to showcase Minnesota as an outstanding host, and will be a catalyst in pursuing other major events in the future," Wilf said.
State law passed prior to that 1992 Super Bowl makes tickets to the big game exempt from state and local sales taxes.
Dayton said he and the four legislative caucus leaders had signed a letter expressing a willingness to work with the NFL on other temporary tax exemptions connected to the game between now and 2018.
Richard Davis predicted that with or without added tax breaks the game will bring a net gain in tax revenue, so Minnesotans need not to worry they'll be on the hook.
Business executive Marilyn Carlson said the bid team also pitched a health and injury-prevention concept with a link to the Mayo Clinic as a part of the affair.
"We'll work together and collaborate to create something for all the coaches and youth, we call it the NFL Youth and Coaches Clinic," Carlson said.
"It will take place during Super Bowl week. It will be free. And hopefully it will become part of a legacy that stretches beyond Minnesota."
Carlson was a member of the 1992 Super Bowl bid committee, and noted that for the Taste of the NFL charity event originated with that game played in the Metrodome and has been going strong ever since.
She said the committee cited recent investments in downtown Minneapolis, including the $53 million Nicollet Mall renovation, as proof that Minnesotans are serious about being competitive with the world. And the exposure of the Super Bowl will have many intangible long term benefits.
When asked by reporters whether he had a Super Bowl in mind when he went to bat for the new stadium, Dayton said he was motivated most by a desire to keep the Vikings in Minnesota and to create jobs both during and after the construction of the new facility.
"The Super Bowl is the frosting on the cake," he explained.