Good vibes filled a once-vacant retail space on Nicollet Mall on Sunday, as shifts of Super Bowl volunteers took a load off at the “Crew 52” headquarters — aka the epicenter of Minnesota Nice.
The former Sports Authority space in City Center was decked out with comfy seats, snacks, coffee and charging stations for the 10,000 volunteers who have helped greet visitors.
Though they were wrapping up their final shifts directing crowds and taking photos, some were already planning for the next gig.
Kim Baillie from Bloomington signed up to receive info about volunteering for the Final Four in Minneapolis next year — which needs 3,000 volunteers.
“We talked to so many people this week,” Baillie said. “It was so fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Kelli Braaten of Minneapolis said she may volunteer in Atlanta and Miami, the next two Super Bowl cities. Braaten also helped along Nicollet Mall and at the Kitten Bowl.
Another volunteer, Tim Riley, also said he was considering helping in Atlanta next year. He was taking photos for visitors in front of the Delta plane on Nicollet Mall on Sunday.
“I was surprised to see as many people as I did with how cold it was,” Riley said. “And they were still in good spirits.”
Keith Martinson, a coordinator of the volunteer headquarters, said they received 30,000 applications and interviewed 15,000 people — looking primarily for enthusiasm. Volunteers came from as far away as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Each volunteer worked three four-hour shifts. And there were perks to the job — namely, swag. Volunteers got long-sleeve polo shirts, a puffer jacket and an outer jacket shell, a backpack, a coffee mug, a travel mug, and lots of pins.
“I have hospitality in my blood,” said Larry Gee, from new Richmond, Wis.
Gee spent some shifts directing people through the skyways. So how do people like them?
“I had many comments regarding ‘This is amazing, this is a wonderful system, you mean we don’t have to go outside to get to the stadium?’ ” Gee said.
Not everybody was wild about the cold weather, though.
“The people that are from the warmth, I think they thought it was neat that we kind of made all this happen,” said Kali Boegeman of Prior Lake. “But [they] would not want to have a Super Bowl in the cold again, which was unfortunate.”