All-Star Game a taste of what’s to come

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in Minneapolis tonight showcases the state, but two years from now the Vikings’ new stadium will be open and counting down to the Super Bowl.

Today the Twin Cities are on display for the sports world to see, as Major League Baseball conducts its annual All-Star Game. July 15, 2014 will go down in the history books as a day that Minneapolis was the center of the sports universe.

However, two years from today, Minnesota sports will truly hit the big time. July 15, 2016 will be a day that will usher in a new era. It is the day that the doors to the yet-to-be-named home of the Vikings will be opened.

It may seem like light years away given the amount of work that is needed to be done between now and then, but two years from today, the landscape of sports in Minnesota will change and Minneapolis will start preparing to be a destination site for Super Bowl 52 in early 2018.

Whether coincidental or intentional, the crowds drawn by the MLB All-Star Game are merely a dry run for the deluge of people that will be flooding into the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl. As fans can attest who purchased tickets for the All-Star festivities, a lot has changed since MLB decided to showcase its elite players in Minnesota 30 years after the last time the baseball world stopped for three days in 1985 to make Minnesota the baseball Mecca for a day.

It can be argued that there are few events that are bigger that baseball’s All-Star game. It’s the only mid-season sports exhibition game among the Big Four sports that truly matters because, unlike the NBA and NHL, competitors are encouraged to play defense. Short of a postseason championship series, it doesn’t get much bigger than the mid-summer classic … that is, unless you’re talking about the Super Bowl.

While the events will come at different times of the year, the responsibility of playing host to the assembled sports media and big-event fan base is being tested by the All-Star Game. Target Field is being used as a showcase for the area, telling the sports populous “look what we’ve got” in terms of a sports palace. It is a new stadium with an old-time look that, for many of the national media types that have made their way to the Twin Cities, could be their first visit to Minnesota and what the state has to offer. The Super Bowl will make this week’s festivities pale by comparison. The next time the sports world converges on Minnesota, it will be to lead up to the Super Bowl, and the showcase arena at that time will be the new Vikings stadium> The party will be epic.

For one day in 2014, the sports world will stop and set its focus on Minneapolis. With no other competing sports going on, it will be the only show in town and it will be in our town.

Two years from today, with the opening of another new stadium, the countdown will begin for Minnesota to play host the biggest game on the biggest stage in the nation. The new Vikings stadium is scheduled to open its doors at that point and, for the first time in the more than a half-century of the NFL in Minnesota, officially give the Vikings a state-of-the-art stadium to play in.

Tonight, the prologue of Minneapolis becoming a sports destination spot will begin. Two years from tonight, the fun will really begin as Minnesota takes its place among sports towns as a site with multiple showcase arenas/stadiums with the opening of the Vikings stadium.

It may seem like forever between now and when the new stadium opens, but, two years from now, the excitement currently being experienced over the new stadium will likely take a back seat for the anticipation that will start to build counting down for the Super Bowl.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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