Gov. Mark Dayton’s willingness to chase Super Bowl dreams only goes so far, evidently. He isn’t in East Rutherford, N.J., this weekend at taxpayer expense after all — not with gubernatorial attention needed in response to a propane shortage in the middle of the coldest winter in three decades. (And not with hip surgery scheduled next week. We wish Dayton a full and speedy recovery.) We’re glad that visions of sitting in a new Vikings stadium VIP box at the 2018 Super Bowl haven’t blinded Dayton to the state’s here-and-now problems.
But we’re also glad that the governor is sufficiently smitten by the prospect of a Super Bowl in Minnesota in 2018, the first for the state since 1992, to do his part to land it. He gave his imprimatur last week to a blue-ribbon panel that will do most of the dream-chasing, to be headed by the business leadership duo that helped push a stadium bill to enactment — Doug Baker of Ecolab and Richard Davis of U.S. Bancorp — and by the CEO who spearheaded the state’s bid for the 1992 Super Bowl, Marilyn Carlson Nelson of the travel and hospitality firm Carlson.
Their effort will be fueled with funds supplied by corporate donations — not tax dollars — and propelled by the prospect of a handsome return for the region on its investment. Estimates of how large that return might be vary widely in content and credibility.
Dayton was sufficiently impressed with a study of the economic gain for Indianapolis from the 2012 Super Bowl, estimated by Rockport Analytics at $324 million, to distribute the report to State Capitol reporters. One day later, PricewaterhouseCoopers projected the direct spending by visitors to New York and New Jersey for Sunday's game at $210 million, and said that visitor spending in Indianapolis two years ago was $150 million.
PWC has kept a running tally through the years of Super Bowl visitor spending. The low ebb in the past dozen years was $113 million in 2006 in Detroit — which Minnesota boosters should note is the host city whose winter weather reputation comes closest to matching their state’s.
None of these sums is shabby. But Minnesotans shouldn’t swallow claims that one Super Bowl can recoup the state’s half-billion-dollar investment in a new stadium.
Rather, they should take their state’s Super Bowl finalist status, and its selection as one of eight finalists for an NCAA men’s basketball Final Four between 2017 and 2020, as evidence that their new 72,000-seat indoor events venue is already paying a dividend in increased national prominence. With stadium construction barely begun, that payoff is only starting. It’s bound to grow.
Minnesotans should also welcome the renewed civic ambition that the Super Bowl bid represents. We’d rather live in a state whose leaders are eager to host major national events than one with lesser aims. Our guess is that most Minnesotans would agree.