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Volume 24 No. 155

Events and Attractions

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).

New Orleans' effort to land Super Bowl LII -- which used the city's 300th birthday in '18 as a key selling point -- "wasn't enough to overcome the continuing trend of new stadiums winning bids," according to Larry Holder of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. New Orleans Sports Foundation President & CEO Jay Cicero said, "This was more of a vote for Minneapolis and a new stadium much more than it was a vote against New Orleans and our presentation. We nailed our presentation." Holder notes while Entergy Chief Administrative Officer Rod West, who helped present New Orleans' bid, was "gracious in defeat," he "couldn't help but express his surprise in the decision." West said, "We prepared to win this. We knew what we were up against with the presumptions for public money and the weight that it holds. So yeah, this is a shock. You don't have a next weekend to come back. That's the tough part. You have to wait a couple of years before you can bid again." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added, "New Orleans is a great venue. They did a terrific job in the last Super Bowl, but so did Indianapolis. I do think, and I've said this before in every circumstances, it's much more competitive to host these Super Bowls. The stadiums, the new stadiums, are obviously a big factor and drive the influence of owners from their perspective." Holder writes securing a bid in the future "will be a tall task for New Orleans," as it is unknown when the city "will be brought back to the bidding table" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/21). 

TOUGH DAY AT THE OFFICE: In Baton Rouge, Ted Lewis writes it was a "tough day" for Cicero, New Orleans Sports Foundation VP Sam Joffray and the "rest of the folks who put in months of work putting together what Cicero said was the best bid presentation for an event in his 22 years with the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation." It also was a "tough day for New Orleans as a prime venue for major sports." To find something that New Orleans "really went after and was blindsided by the result, you have to go all the way back to 2003 when a bid for a Final Four in 2007 or 2008 was shot down" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 5/21). In New Orleans, Christopher Dabe wrote the city "had a few things working against its bid," including the "infamous blackout when the city last hosted the game" in '13. There also was the fact that the city "has hosted the game 10 times already." Dabe: "Or maybe the NFL figures New Orleans isn't going anywhere soon, and the league can make a return here whenever it gets around to it" (NOLA.com, 5/20). In New Orleans, Holder noted Saints Owner Tom Benson "fell when leaving the podium after speaking to the league owners during his five-minute pitch." Benson "hit his head and left the meetings in an ambulance." Saints VP/Communications Greg Bensel said that Benson "was fine after the fall and would be checked for a concussion before flying back to New Orleans" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/21).

RETURN TRIP? ESPN.com's Mike Triplett wrote, "The Super Bowl will come back to New Orleans. Just like it has time and again over the past five decades." New Orleans' 300th birthday was a "compelling reason" to bring the Super Bowl back in '18, but $500M "apparently trumps 300." Asked if he would encourage New Orleans to bid again as soon as possible, Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said, "I sure would. But New Orleans doesn't need me to tell 'em how to do it. ... Just know they're one of the great places in the hearts of the owners in the NFL. It just didn't work this vote" (ESPN.com, 5/20). In New Orleans, Mark Waller writes when it "comes to drawing big events and tourists, New Orleans has been on an extraordinary run," but the city "suffered a wobble" with yesterday's vote. New Orleans hosted the NBA All-Star game and WrestleMania XXX this year, and hosted the Final Four in '12 and the women's Final Four in '13. Waller: "And, of course, it hosted the Super Bowl in 2013" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/21).

TIME TO STEP UP: In New Orleans, Trey Iles writes the NFL's vote "had most jaws dropping around these parts." Iles: "Not mine. And not those from the folks at the Allstate Sugar Bowl." New Orleans in December "looked to the casual observer like a lead-pipe cinch" to host the '16 College Football Playoff championship game, but what the city and state "found out in December is that history is no longer a major factor in luring championship events." Glendale outbid New Orleans for the '16 CFP game "almost two to one in dollars." If Louisiana "wants to keep getting these marquee events, it's going to have to step up financially." The state "needs only to look at Texas as to how it can finance these big events." AT&T Stadium will "host the first CFP championship game in 2015 and that's primarily because of the Texas Events Trust Funds." Louisiana has a "similar mechanism set up but it exists only on paper," and has "yet to be funded." The "next big event that New Orleans will bid on" is the '17 men's Final Four. The NCAA will "award that in November and the Sugar Bowl and GNOSF are working feverishly on the RFP" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/21).

BUILD AND THEY WILL COME: In Boston, Ben Volin writes under the header, "Minneapolis Buys Itself A Super Bowl For 2018." Volin: "Build a stadium and the Super Bowl will come. That’s the reality of today’s NFL." That was the "only significant story line to emerge" from yesterday's vote. The owners are "all about rewarding each other for getting stadiums built," as the "back-slapping" began in '11 when the NFL awarded Jones the Super Bowl as a gift for building AT&T Stadium. Now Indianapolis and New Orleans are "probably going to have to wait a long time to get their next turn at a Super Bowl, even assuming they had great bid presentations this time." Atlanta, which is "set to open a new retractable-roof stadium" in '17, is a "good bet to get the game" in '19 or '20. Now that Minneapolis and N.Y./N.J. have been awarded Super Bowls, other "cold-weather cities will jump in" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/21).

TAKING TIME OFF? In Indianapolis, Stephen Holder writes the NFL's decision "likely sidelines Indianapolis' hopes for a second Super Bowl for an extended period." The city was "up against stiff competition," and was "eliminated first." Indiana Sports Corp President Allison Melangton, who chaired the city's bid committee, said, "I think, obviously, the stadium is a big part of it. All three bid cities offered something completely different as far as what they were pitching. Minnesota's was the stadium. For New Orleans, it was the 300th anniversary. For us, we stayed true to who we are. We're a community that has great engagement and great volunteers and a legacy that's important to us. ... But that wasn't a priority for the owners, and they get to choose." Colts Owner Jim Irsay, attending his "first league meeting since leaving inpatient treatment after his arrest on DUI and drug-possession charges, made his own five-minute pitch to his peers." Irsay said, "It's like coming into the losing locker room. But we know we've had defeat before in trying to bid and came back and won. I think we had a tremendous presentation." Meanwhile, Irsay "echoed Melangton in saying it was much too early to comment on a potential future bid" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/21).

FIFA has “ordered one more test game at the stadium in São Paulo that will host the opening match of the World Cup after problems surfaced over the weekend at the venue's inaugural match,” according to Rogerio Jelmayer of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Not all of the seats required for the World Cup were installed in time for Sunday's game at the Arena Corinthians, “prompting FIFA to ask” for another test game. FIFA “requires the venue to seat 68,000 spectators but only 40,000 were used for Sunday's match.” The other 28,000 seats “are temporary and will only be used during the World Cup.” Some problems “arose during Sunday's test game because of an unfinished roof that forced many fans to scramble for covered seats because of heavy rain.” Sources said that the part of the roof covering the rest of the seats "won't be finished until after the World Cup." Journalists and fans “also reported problems using cellphones and gaining access to the Internet at the stadium during the match." The second test game "will take place" on My 29 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/21). 

OF STADIUMS AND UNREST: Last night's edition of HBO's "Real Sports" examined Brazil's infrastructure and stadium construction efforts. HBO's Jon Frankel noted the government has built stadiums across the country, but asked, "What will they be used for after the World Cup? That's the $4 billion question. But if history is any guide, many will become expensive and empty monuments to waste or what the ancients called white elephants." Frankel: "They are the dirty, little secret shared by almost every country that has recently hosted the World Cup or the Olympic Games." He added, "Brazil's economy, once sizzling hot, is now ice cold and untold millions live in third-world poverty. But undeterred, the government is about to spend more money on a World Cup than any country in history and worry about tomorrow tomorrow" ("Real Sports," HBO, 5/20). The Nation's Dave Zirin said Brazil is "not ready" for the World Cup. Zirin: "Imagine mass protests in New York City against pizza. It's Brazil and people are marching on soccer stadiums" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 5/21). Soccer legend and Brazil native Pelé said, “Politically speaking, the money spent to build the stadiums was a lot, and in some cases was more than it should have been” (USA TODAY, 5/21).