By Don Davis
A group of Minnesotans heads for New York City and environs this weekend for work, and not to just party at Super Bowl festivities.
Actually, the two are one and the same for a committee organized to lobby to get the 2018 Super Bowl in Minnesota. The Minnesotans will use some of the events to attract the National Football League championship game.
Gov. Mark Dayton is among the Minnesotans who plan to attend a Friday night ball hosted by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The next day, Dayton will lead a Minnesota delegation meeting with Goodell.
The Vikings football team will host a Minnesota reception Saturday night.
On Monday, Dayton and other organizers of Minnesota’s effort to attract the Feb. 4, 2018, Super Bowl announced they will be in New York City and nearby New Jersey, where Sunday’s game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks actually will be played. While their main focus will be trying to convince NFL team owners to pick Minneapolis as the site of the league’s championship game and related events, they also will scout out this year’s events to get an idea of how to handle them in the Twin Cities.
Also Monday, the operator of the not-yet-built stadium learned that it is a finalist for a Final Four men’s college basketball championship tournament.
Minnesota organizers are optimistic.
“It’s our time, it’s our moment and we are ready,” said Richard Davis, U.S. Bancorp chairman and one of three leaders of the organization committee.
Unlike Sunday’s Super Bowl, Davis promised it will be “70 degrees and clear” in the enclosed downtown Minneapolis stadium. Forecasters say temperatures will be in the 30s for this weekend’s Super Bowl.
Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said Minnesota has a good chance of landing the Super Bowl for a couple of reasons.
One reason is that the NFL has been trying to reward communities that are building new stadiums, communities such as the Twin Cities. The other is that the other two finalists for the 2018 game, Indianapolis and New Orleans, have hosted Super Bowls since Minnesota. The only other Minnesota Super Bowl was in 1992, 10 years after the Metrodome opened.
The new stadium, due for completion by the 2016 football season, replaces the Metrodome. Workers have begun tearing down the old stadium and at the same time are building the new one.
The three cities vying for the 2018 game must give the NFL their bids by April 1 this year. Team owners are to decide in May.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which operates the stadium, is a finalist for the national men’s basketball college Final Four championship event late this decade, Authority Chairwoman Michelle Kelm-Helgen learned Monday afternoon.
The other seven finalists for the 2017-2020 championship tournaments are Atlanta, Indianapolis, New Orleans, North Texas, Phoenix-Glendale, San Antonio and St. Louis.
“We are very excited that even before the new stadium has been built that it has attracted such strong interest in premiere sporting events,” Kelm-Helgen said. “The public investment in the new stadium has spurred a $400 million private investment by Wells Fargo and Ryan Companies, and if we are fortunate enough to host both of these events, it means hundreds of millions of dollars for local businesses, the city and state.”
Attracting a Super Bowl is not free.
Davis and others pushing for the championship game could not say how much money they need to make the pitch. However, community efforts to lure a Super Bowl elsewhere have cost up to $40 million. Dayton said no public money will be spent.
Organizers of the Minnesota effort said they expect up to $500 million economic impact from a Super Bowl. Indianapolis says it received a $324 million boost when it hosted the 2012 event.
However, the NJ.com news site reported that estimates of a $500 million impact for the New Jersey game are way off. It quotes experts saying benefits could be closer to $200 million.
This weekend’s Super Bowl is expected to bring the most money into New York City, the website reported, while New Jersey will spend the most.
In Minnesota, the issue may be how areas outside the Twin Cities would benefit.
Dayton and his economic development commissioner said they will do everything possible to include greater Minnesota vendors if the Super Bowl is played in Minneapolis. However, they were not specific about how they would do that.
“What helps the Twin Cities helps the state,” Dayton said.
One rural legislator was not convinced that Dayton should have made the Super Bowl announcement when temperatures were 12 below in St. Paul and many in the state faced problems.
“At a time when greater Minnesotans are facing adversity due to a costly and crippling propane gas shortage, and the entire state is suffering thanks to his failed implementation of Obamacare in Minnesota, Gov. Dayton once again is distracted,” Assistant House Minority Leader Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said. “Bringing a Super Bowl to Minnesota was supposed to be a foregone conclusion with a new stadium agreement, so why is the governor attempting to put this back in the news?”
Dayton on Monday met with commissioners about the propane issue.
In announcing the Super Bowl committee, Dayton pointed out one of the benefits he sees: “We will have a chance to showcase to the nation and the world.”
Davis said that with so many large companies headquartered in the Twin Cities, the state has a lot to show off.
He also said that the state can handle the job.
“Put me in coach,” he said for Minnesota. “I’m ready.”