Now begins the work of preparing for the 2018 Super Bowl

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 22, 2014 - 7:55 AM

A party for more than 100,000 guests leaves little time to waste, even if it’s more than three years away.

The committee behind Minnesota’s winning bid for the 2018 Super Bowl took a pause for public congratulations with Gov. Mark Dayton at the State Capitol on Wednesday, a day after NFL team owners voted to send the game to Minneapolis over New Orleans and Indianapolis. The group touched on questions about preparations, costs and tax breaks, but said it was too early to get into details.

Dayton began the afternoon news conference by recalling the 2010 NFC Championship Game, in which the Vikings fell in painful fashion to the New Orleans Saints, narrowly missing a trip to the Super Bowl. “This is a great response to that,” he said, turning around to smile at team owner Mark Wilf.

Joining Dayton and Wilf were bid committee co-chairs Marilyn Carlson Nelson, board member at Carlson Cos.; U.S. Bankcore CEO Richard Davis, Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley, Melvin Tennant of Meet Minneapolis, Michael Langley of Greater MSP, and Michele Kelm-Helgen, executive director of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. All members of the group had been in Atlanta for the bid presentation.

The moment was about congratulations and recuperations rather than preparations. The committee members were recovering from the nerve-racking duty of delivering a presentation and waiting through four rounds of voting, then the whirlwind of victory. Asked what the next step was, Carlson Nelson quipped, “A nap.”

Davis, who made a work trip to Fargo, N.D., from Atlanta on Tuesday before landing back in St. Paul, is a fast-paced guy, but even he would talk only about the short term.

The next step, he said, is for the bid committee to become the host committee and to add members.

Plans beyond that are not developed, other than that the committee members intend to stay involved until game day — Feb. 4, 2018.

‘A lot of work’ ahead

The Twin Cities’ winning “Built for the Bold” pitch involved multiple venues for big events, from an ice palace in downtown St. Paul to Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America in Bloomington. Some $30 million already has been raised and another $10 million may be needed, Davis said, adding that the money to help with the bid effort came in so quickly that half of the local corporate donors haven’t even been tapped.

“There’s a lot of work in front of us,” said Ecolab CEO Doug Baker, a bid co-chair who was not in Atlanta. “It’s a big production.”

The logistics will be worked out over time.

One white-hot issue looms: tax breaks. The Super Bowl is coming to the Twin Cities largely on the strength of the $498 million public contribution to the new $1 billion stadium that will be home to the Vikings. Minnesota taxpayers are even more aware of that subsidy than NFL owners.

A sales-tax exemption on tickets to the game is already in state law as the result of the 1992 Super Bowl that Minneapolis hosted. Dayton said that will cost the state about $9 million.

Still at issue are sales-tax exemptions for Super Bowl week events and income-tax exemptions on players’ salaries.

The sales tax exemption on events is still up for possible legislative debate, but exemptions on players’ salaries appear to be out of consideration at the Capitol.

Davis and Kelm-Helgen said the state will meet the NFL requirements for hosting the game, probably through private fundraising.

“We don’t know what the prices will be,” Kelm-Helgen said of tickets to other events. “We have to sit down with the NFL.”

Davis insisted that private money will be raised for snow removal, security and heated tents, among other things, to make sure the Super Bowl is a “net positive” in tax revenue.

St. Paul gears up

St. Paul is already starting to buzz about the Winter Carnival ice palace.

“There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm around it,” said Rosanne Bump, president and CEO of the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, which runs the Winter Carnival. “Obviously, there’s a lot of things that need to be done between now and an ice palace, but we can see the big-picture benefits of being involved in this.”

Mayor Chris Coleman said other St. Paul offerings could include a program at the Palace Theater, which recently won $5 million in state bonding for renovations, and a concert at the Xcel Energy Center.

“The key to an event like this is, obviously, you get a chance to showcase your community, but we’re not going to pretend like winter doesn’t exist,” Coleman said.

St. Paul will be careful to coordinate its plans with Minneapolis and the NFL, he said, adding, “I’m not going to do anything to try to steal thunder.”

Another big question

The 2018 extravaganza is “going to make a lot of people a lot of money in Minnesota,” Dayton said.

The governor added that he’d love to see the Vikings playing a home-field Super Bowl. Mark Wilf responded with a smile and a thumbs-up before the governor added, “You can start sooner than that.”

Staff writer Kevin Duchschere contributed to this report. @rochelleolson • 612-673-1747

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