When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell flew into St. Paul two days after a Vikings stadium deal appeared dead in 2012, the dire circumstances surrounding a state funding bill for a new stadium took a dramatic and significant turn. While Goodell refused to acknowledge that he promised state leaders a Super Bowl would return to Minnesota if a new stadium was constructed – Viking Update tried to pry that information out of him at an on-field press conference last year at the Metrodome – it seemed to be a clear connection. Suddenly support that had been nonexistent came out from both sides of the aisle and in both governmental bodies of the State Legislature.
On Tuesday at the NFL Fall Meeting in Washington D.C., the NFL reduced the number of cities in the running to host Super Bowl LII in February 2018 to three, with Minneapolis being viewed by many to be the frontrunner for selection.
At the meeting, the owners voted to whittle down the list of candidates from six to three. The three cities eliminated were Miami, Dallas and Tampa. The three remaining are Minneapolis, New Orleans and Indianapolis. While the final announcement won't come until the NFL spring meeting next May, the Vikings and state officials have to be extremely optimistic for two reasons: the competition.
Indianapolis was a strange choice two years ago when it hosted Super Bowl XLVI (46 to the rest of us). It was a small market to host the Super Bowl and doesn't have as extensive a skyway system that Minneapolis has for people who want to walk around the city and don't want to deal with February weather in the Midwest. The weather gods were on Indy's side. Just about everyone who came away from that Super Bowl had fond memories of the atmosphere surrounding the game and the proximity of the major attractions of Super Bowl. It had a small-town feel that came off as charming. But getting back in the Super Bowl rotation so quickly doesn't seem likely.
New Orleans should eventually become a permanent Super Bowl site. Few cities know how to party and host a week of parties like N'awlins. But, not only did the city host the Super Bowl in February, it was noted for being a league embarrassment as its marquee event went dark for an hour as a power failure in the area of the aging Superdome put the event on temporary hold. It was a reminder that, at a time when the NFL pays back owners who help build state-of-the-art stadiums, the Superdome has perhaps outlived its modern usefulness.
Then there is Minnesota. The recent, current and future history of the Super Bowl has shown a willingness to reward those who build a new stadium with a Super Bowl to showcase the facility and the city. For the first 20-some years of the Super Bowls, they were consistently held in Florida, California or New Orleans, with a few random off-path locations thrown a bone, starting with the Georgia Dome in 2000. Atlanta had built a new stadium and it got showcased. Raymond James Stadium in Tampa would follow in 2001. Reliant Stadium in Houston would come next in 2004. In 2006, it was Ford Field in Detroit. In 2008, it was University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. In 2011, Jerry Jones put the Taj Ma Y'all on display in Dallas. At the end of this season, the Super Bowl will be outdoors in the shadow of the Big Apple at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. In 2016, the Super Bowl will be awarded to the yet-to-be-finished Levi's Stadium in San Jose – the new home of the San Francisco 49ers.
It may be that last one that could be of most interest to Vikings fans. When the Vikings were on the list to host Super Bowl LI (51), it would coincide with the first year the building would be open for business. A global brand like the NFL wants to make sure all the bugs are out of the new building – get rid of that new-building smell – before they bring their showcase event to town. San Francisco's new digs will have two years of use before the Super Bowl rolls in. Under that same premise, the new Vikings stadium would be two years into operation before the Big Show arrives.
The bottom line on the question of whether Minnesota gets its Super Bowl could well lie in the competition. The only two cities in the running have hosted the last two Super Bowls. One was seen as a one-time thing. The other had the biggest Super Bowl disaster since Janet Jackson introduced the mainstream to the term "wardrobe malfunction."
When Roger Goodell's plane landed at MSP International, the stadium issue was a legislative version of The Walking Dead. Now, not only is it very much alive, given the rationale for naming the site of a Super Bowl, Minnesota has to be a prohibitive favorite. In that case, Goodell makes good on his promise – whether stated or implied.
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.
Minneapolis looking good to host Super Bowl
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