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Super Bowl LII: Dateline Minnesota

Rochelle Olson updates you on Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Super Bowl veteran gets in first for volunteer interviews

When the doors swung open on the Super Bowl LII volunteer center downtown over the weekend to the sound of Skol line drums and cheering, John Wahl of St. Louis Park was the first volunteer in line.

Wahl, 84, is back for a second Super Bowl. He volunteered for the 1992 game at the the Metrodome. That year, he was stationed as a "host" at the Marriott Hotel in Minnetonka. Wahl recalled the gig, saying he provided recommendations for sites and restaurants to visitors.

He also gave them directions in the pre-GPS era. "At that time when people wanted to go to places, we'd get out the maps and the highlighters," he said, adding that they'd hand over the paper maps with the routes highlighted.

During the 2018 game, Wahl said his preferred volunteer gig would be as support staff in the volunteer center. The center is on the ground floor on the northwest corner of 7th Street South and Nicollet Mall at City Center.

For the next couple of months, Super Bowl Host Committee organizers, led by volunteer coordinator Elle Kehoe, will be conducting interviews of prospective volunteers three days a week.

The host committee requires 10,000 volunteers to put on the 10-day event starting in late January and culminating in the game Feb. 4. Some 20,000 people already have applied from Minnesota and beyond, but the host committee encourages more to log in and sign up.

The first step is to apply through the host committee's website. Next, would-be volunteers must sign up for an interview slot. Walk-ins aren't allowed.

The interview process ran smoothly on the first day, Saturday, with hopeful volunteer candidates filing in, watching a video from organizers and Crew 52 leader Chad Greenway. Then they went into interviews where they were asked a handful of questions aimed at determining whether they're the sort of enthusiastic, chatty types who will provide warm welcomes to visitors.

Interviews will continue through September. As for Wahl, he said he's a committed volunteer, logging some 500 hours a year. He explained why he was first-in-line early Saturday, "I've got a lot of things to do today."

Super Bowl volunteers arrive for job interviews Saturday at new headquarters on Nicollet Mall

It’s game on Saturday for the first round of volunteer applicants stepping into the Minnesota Super Bowl “Crew 52” headquarters on Nicollet Mall.

Candidates will arrive to music, hoopla and greetings from the gregarious Chad Greenway, the retired Minnesota Viking and a Crew 52 booster. He will officially open the doors inside City Center to the ground-floor volunteer space after an energetic welcome from Super Bowl Host Committee CEO Maureen Bausch, former Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders and the Skol Line musicians.

“Help us make Minnesota shine,” Bausch says to prospective volunteers in a welcome video.

On Friday, Host Committee volunteer director Elle Kehoe gave a preview of the space that will be the heart of what organizers hope will be a warm Minnesota welcome for every Super Bowl visitor.

The volunteer home will be a test of the Host Committee’s Super Bowl LII effort. For the past two-plus years, much of the action — fundraising and planning — has occurred behind closed doors in private meetings.

Now the public gets in on the game in a big way. The success of the “Bold North”-themed Super Bowl rests heavily on bright-eyed, cheery volunteers to provide warm Midwestern hospitality for an estimated 1 million visitors to parties and events. On Friday, the headquarters was quiet and empty with couches, tables, memorabilia displays and a selfie booth awaiting the buzz.

Some 20,000 have applied for 10,000 volunteer spots — and the committee is still taking applications through its website. Act fast, however, because the committee is conducting interviews through September. Candidates must sign up for interview times after submitting applications and all of the August slots are full, Kehoe said. Walk-ins are not allowed.

A crew of 100 screening specialists and support staff will welcome the first wave of 80 interviewees at 9 a.m. Saturday. Face-to-face interviews will continue through the day and then three days a week for the next two months. Prospective volunteers will watch a welcome video featuring Bausch and Greenway.

The goal is to “put Super Bowl 52 in the history books as one of the best ever,” Bausch said.

Kehoe said the committee wants outgoing volunteers who engage in conversation.

Volunteers are needed for five general categories: hotel host, skyway host, Super Bowl Live host, Mall of America host and volunteer headquarters support. By far the most volunteers are needed for Super Bowl Live, the 10-day free event with music, food and activities on Nicollet Mall.

Kehoe said 1,500 volunteers a day are needed on Nicollet Mall. They must be able and willing to stand outside for three- to four-hour shifts, bedecked in the free Super Bowl LII uniform they’ll receive, including a parka that will withstand the weather.

On their applications, volunteers are asked to identify their top three choices.

One caveat: No volunteers will be needed in or around U.S. Bank Stadium on game day, Feb. 4, 2018. The NFL handles those gigs.

As they exit, prospects will have their picture taken and get a free deck of cards featuring the blue and purple Super Bowl LII logo. Accepted candidates will receive notification in October. Training will occur in January.

The headquarters is in the former Sports Authority store on the corner of Nicollet Mall and S. 7th Street.

 

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

Twitter: @rochelleolson