SBD/May 21, 2014/Events and Attractions

New Stadium Seen As Key Component For Minneapolis' Upset Super Bowl LII Win

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In a big surprise, Minneapolis won the right to host Super Bowl LII in '18, on the fourth vote by NFL owners yesterday afternoon. New Orleans had long been considered the favorite. Indianapolis was eliminated first, and Minneapolis won when the voting went to simple majority. Minneapolis will have a new stadium by '16, and the NFL often awards Super Bowls to cities with new stadiums, especially those paid with public money like in Minneapolis. New Orleans is celebrating its 300th anniversary in '18, and aging Saints Owner Tom Benson, hobbled by knee surgery, made the visit to Atlanta to pitch the bid. The New Orleans bid committee appeared confident after their presentation, but in the end, the new stadium in Minnesota proved too much. It is the first time New Orleans has ever lost a Super Bowl vote (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer). In Minneapolis, Rochelle Olson in a front-page piece notes members of the Minnesota delegation "danced, jumped up and down, hugged and high-fived on hearing the news." The "Built for the Bold" theme of the bid "emphasized" the $1B Vikings stadium. After NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "announced the victor, a number of team owners said the new stadium was a decisive factor." Minnesota last hosted a Super Bowl in '92. Vikings co-Owner Mark Wilf, who "gave Minneapolis’ five-minute closing argument to the owners during their closed-door meeting before voting, said he emphasized the public-private partnership involved in building the stadium." He also told the owners that the Super Bowl "would validate the stadium as a top-notch facility for generations of Minnesotans." The vote "is secret, so the final tally won’t be made public," but it "clearly wasn’t a slam-dunk for Minnesota." Before the presentation, Minnesota’s bid committee members "kept their cards hidden, but afterward they revealed the bid’s theme and emphasis on the ease of navigating the Twin Cities and plans to make the Mall of America a hub of action." Billboards "heralding the game and featuring the new stadium were unveiled in the Twin Cities not long after the news was announced" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21). ESPN's Adam Schefter said, "It's not as if the league was rushing to get to Minneapolis, as great a city as it is. This is about they built a stadium and we're going to give you a Super Bowl to reward you for that stadium" ("NFL Insiders," ESPN, 5/20).

A COLD-WEATHER COUP: In Minneapolis, Eric Roper notes Nicollet Mall "will become 'Super Bowl Boulevard,' a base for ancillary activities." Former Mayor R.T. Rybak, who "was instrumental in securing the stadium deal, said the city should embrace and celebrate its winter culture." Rybak: "My hope is that we could pitch this as a northern Super Bowl that’s all about events like the City of Lakes Loppet and the Winter Carnival and Crashed Ice and the Pond Hockey Championship" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21). Wilf said of his feelings during the announcement, "Very humbled, grateful and exhilarated at the same time. It's a huge sense of relief. It's nerve-racking going through those votes." Wilf: "There are no guarantees. One of the reasons we were encouraged and worked so hard to get the stadium built was because these types of events can come when you build a first-class facility. It's a big project, a big undertaking. We're grateful to the state, to the city, for being partners on this" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/21). ESPN.com's Ben Goessling wrote the Minneapolis bid committee "could talk about the plans for a revamped downtown" and "tout the Twin Cities' robust group of Fortune 500 companies that had already helped raise more" than $30M for the game. But the Minneapolis bid "had one irrefutable $1 billion crown jewel in its case for the 2018 Super Bowl: the NFL's newest stadium" (ESPN.com, 5/20). In St. Paul, Brian Murphy writes Minneapolis "pulled off the ultimate upset Tuesday." The Wilf family scored a "major coup" by landing the game. Carlson Co. BOD Chair and Minnesota bid committee member Marilyn Carlson Nelson said, "I thought I was going to pass out because I was holding my breath for all three." Carlson Nelson believes that support for the Colts "swung to Minnesota because of the kinship the two cold-weather markets shared in their competition against tropical party town New Orleans." Davis: "We've got a lot committments we've made, all of which we'll deliver after we go back and celebrate with the community. We have 3-1/2 years, but we're going to act like we have to be ready tomorrow" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/21). ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert reported the announcement "shot a charge into the populace" of Minnesota. Being awarded one of the world's "premier sporting events will engender civic pride in a way nothing else could" (ESPN.com, 5/20).

MOTHER NATURE'S ROLE: In Minneapolis, Mark Craig wrote by planting an unseasonably warm weekend for Super Bowl XLVIII "between two crippling New York/New Jersey snowstorms," Mother Nature "saved not only the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl but the dreams of future potential cold-weather venues as well." Just "imagine if the timing of either storm had been only slightly different." Imagine what the "first 'Super Bowl Monday' would have done to the perception of cold-weather cities as embraceable venues going forward." The experiment "was considered so successful that owners of northern teams with open-air stadiums began immediately throwing elbows to be next in line." It appears that cold-weather venues will now "have a consistent seat at the NFL's money trough" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 5/20). Meanwhile, Colts Owner Jim Irsay said that he "will gladly offer any assistance to the Vikings in preparation for Super Bowl LII." Irsay: "We have a proven track record of not having a glitch. I don't know how much of our weather we can give, which was almost 60 degrees at game day." ESPN.com's Mike Wells wrote civic leaders "worked to turn Minnesota's legendary winters into a selling point, even though this past winter was the coldest in 35 years." Wilf: "We didn't shy away from it. We embraced it" (ESPN.com, 5/20). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes if you "ever feel tempted to question" the Wilfs' "business acumen, remember this: They just sold frostbite to billionaires." They "beat out New Orleans, the quintessential Super Bowl City, and Indianapolis, a less-cold city in which you can walk to every event without going outdoors." This "is the real Miracle on Ice" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21). In St. Paul, Tom Powers writes, "Super Bowl LII should be quite an event, and I can't help but think Minnesotans will enjoy this one much more than the one" in '92. Back then, the Twin Cities "were in the midst of an unprecedented run of major sporting events." Minnesota "was on top of the sports world." Within a 12-month period, the area "played host to the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, Super Bowl, Final Four and U.S. Open golf tournament." Things "have calmed considerably, and it's been awhile since the state has hosted a major sporting event." The Super Bowl "is the Holy Grail of big events," and Minnesotans "did everything humanly possible to get it back" there (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/21).

IMPACT ON OTHER CITIES: In Atlanta, Tim Tucker writes under the header, "Minneapolis' Selection As Super Bowl Site 'Bodes Well' For Atlanta." Atlanta "wasn’t eligible to seek the 2018 Super Bowl because the NFL requires a stadium to be open for two football seasons before it hosts the event." The new Falcons stadium is scheduled to open in '17, making the '19 Super Bowl the "first for which it can bid." Atlanta "has begun the bid process for 2019 by submitting a letter of interest to the NFL," and the league "is expected to narrow the applicants to three candidates in October and choose the site next May." Atlanta has hosted two Super Bowls, '94 and '00, the latter "marred by an ice storm" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 5/21). In Dallas, Jeff Mosier notes the Cowboys "weren’t in the running to host" the '18 Super Bowl, but the team "still scored a minor victory." Minnesota’s success "potentially gives the Cowboys a slightly better shot at hosting the big game in the next couple of years." The team "will have to compete against only one new stadium, rather than two." Even with yesterday's vote, the Cowboys "have to wait nearly a decade -- and potentially longer -- between hosting NFL championships." Besides "battling a new stadium planned for Atlanta, the Cowboys in the next couple of years will face a growing number of competitors." Cowboys Senior Dir of Corporate Communications & Strategic Event Planning Brett Daniels said that team officials "aren’t disappointed to wait this long for a return of the Super Bowl" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/21).
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