Minnesota prepares for its own Super Bowl

Several member of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee attended events in Phoenix this week to begin logistical preparations for hosting the Super Bowl in 2018.

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Executives from Minnesota’s Super Bowl host committee made the trip to Phoenix this week to tour the events and examine the process of hosting a Super Bowl, something they will be charged with in 2018 for Minnesota.

The Minnesota Vikings new stadium will host the Super Bowl in 2018, less than two years after the stadium opens for NFL play, but the event is much more than just a game. With the NFL Experience and numerous other activities around downtown Phoenix, Super Bowl XLIX is a week-long attraction.

Minnesota’s event organizers arrived on Monday and toured different venues and received details about operations, security, traffic management, media, volunteers, sponsors, the NFL Experience and the NFL Honors show.

“It’s amazing. We’ve seen how different partners have entertained or used the Super Bowl to elevate their companies, their image,” said Maureen Bausch, the CEO of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.

“It’s so much more than a game. It’s a chance for the city and state to showcase themselves. We want to make sure to activate Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington – I think they’ve done a good here of doing that.”

Melvin Tennant, the CEO of Meet Minneapolis, was among the execs from Minnesota taking in the events of Super Bowl XLIX behind the scenes this week, but he views Minnesota’s opportunity to host the Super Bowl in three years as a way to attract even more events.

“It opens up a lot of doors for us in terms of organizations that may not have considered us in the past. Now that we’ve been able to secure a Super Bowl it really gives us many, many options in terms of other events,” he said while standing in the lobby of the Phoenix Convention Center. “Obviously after having booked the Super Bowl we subsequently booked the Final Four. We’re very much in the hunt for a college football playoff game. But not just sporting events, it’s also other major conventions that have a lot of moving pieces. I think this is going to be a great opportunity for us to market the city even more aggressively.”

Bausch learned that hosting a Super Bowl will require “millions and millions” of square feet, from the popular fan event called the NFL Experience to the free events on the street like NFL Central to 100,000 square feet for media work space and 40,000 square feet for logistical operations.

In Minnesota, Super Bowl Central could be hosted on Nicollet Mall and the NFL Experience could be hosted at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Media Day is being considered at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to showcase the Winter Carnival in conjunction with the Super Bowl events.

For now, all of that is up in the air. Event supervisors from the NFL will be coming to Minnesota in March to discuss what works and what doesn’t.

“Every year the Super Bowl changes and they learn something from the last one and they’ll say, ‘You know what? This space didn’t work very well; let’s do it here,’” Bausch said.

She and other members of the Minnesota committee met briefly with the Phoenix committee and more extensively with representatives from San Francisco and Houston, the host cities for the next two Super Bowls. A volunteer staff of about 10,000 and security staff around 5,000 will be needed for each Super Bowl.

One of the main differences in the Arizona, San Francisco and Houston bids versus the Minnesota bid, of course, is February weather in Minnesota. Bausch, a former executive of the Mall of America, put on her retail hat to answer that question.

“It’s your time to buy the very best winter clothes you’ve got. It’s going to be a fashion show of beautiful winter clothes. But come prepared; we’re outdoors,” she said. “We can have fun with snow. I think we have to be especially warm in our personalities. It’s all about people.”

Said Tennant: “We do winter better than anyone else. We can’t control the weather, but if something happens we’re more prepared for it than anyone else. Obviously the stadium itself is enclosed; it’s great. That’s really the focus of the whole week. We’re ready; we’re prepared.”

Other members of Minnesota’s contingent that attended to scout Arizona this week include US Bank CEO Richard Davis, Ecolab CEO Doug Baker, former Carlson CEO Marilyn Carlson-Nelson and the CEO of Greater Minneapolis, Mike Langley. They met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other NFL event supervisors.

Vikings players Teddy Bridgewater, Greg Jennings, Harrison Smith, Kyle Rudolph and Andrew Sendejo are expected to attend at an event Saturday to unveil Minnesota’s Super Bowl logo. During the ensuing Super Bowls in San Francisco and Houston, the Vikings plan to bring some of their sponsors to experience the spectacle and have some of their staffers from the Minnesota Host Committee work parts of the San Francisco event.

“What I have observed is each city that I’ve visited for the Super Bowl in the last three years has done it a little differently,” Tennant said. “I think one of the things the NFL officials have really stressed to us is that we should really play to our strengths.”

The key will be where all the different events are hosted in the Twin Cities area.

“Overall what I think we have is a very compact urban experience, where you have a stadium, convention center, other venues within our downtown area connected by light rail, which can easily get visitors to and from both St. Paul and Bloomington,” Tennant said.

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