Minneapolis is one of three finalists to host a World’s Fair in 2023, meeting a significant threshold that intensifies preparations as the city hopes to beat out Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Lodz, Poland, officials announced Wednesday.
“We’re happy to be on this side of the decision,” said Mark Ritchie, the chief executive of the Minnesota World’s Fair Bid Committee, speaking from Paris, where the General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) heard Minneapolis’ presentation and voted to make it a finalist.
Should the BIE’s member nations select the United States as the host country, Minneapolis will welcome the world between mid-May and mid-August in 2023 under the theme of “Healthy People, Healthy Planet.” These three-month expositions are staged between full-blown world’s fairs, which occur every five years.
Expo 2023, as it is called, would offer a collection of local and international exhibits and activities that showcase innovation in efforts to improve human health. Organizers say it would draw 150,000 visitors per day for three months and generate an economic impact of $4 billion.
Ritchie, Minnesota’s former secretary of state, said he’s “exhausted and ready to start the next phase of this work with the help of people from all around the country and the world.”
Rio de Janeiro was among four bidding cities but dropped out. While the 168-nation BIE accepted all three remaining cities as finalists, the body could have trimmed the field to two or even left one standing triumphantly, Ritchie said. The winning city will be announced in November.
Expo 2023 would join the other mega events headed to Minnesota, such as the 2018 Super Bowl and the 2019 Final Four basketball championship.
Marilyn Carlson Nelson, co-chair of Minnesota World’s Fair Bid Committee, said in a statement following Wednesday’s announcement, “We still have our work cut out for us in the competition. ... Now is the time for U.S. businesses, as well as public and civic leaders to come together to make the strongest case possible to ensure that the BIE selects the Twin Cities” for the expo.
Ritchie said that Minneapolis being a finalist means “now we can turn our attention to the nitty-gritty” of mapping out more specifics about how a World’s Fair expo would come together.
The prep work will include mulling over what signature landmark Minneapolis would have, if it wins out. For example, Paris owes its Eiffel Tower to the 1889 World’s Fair, and the Space Needle in Seattle was erected for the 1962 fair.
In December, Minneapolis’ pitch won the blessing of the Obama administration, making it officially the U.S. bid. From there, the Trump White House signed off, with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan declaring support for the Minneapolis bid at a June 5 event in Washington attended by 70 countries.
Another piece fell into place when Congress renewed the nation’s BIE membership, which lapsed 16 years ago. Membership is required to host a World’s Fair.
Funding for all World’s Fair projects in the U.S. must come from private sources. The United States hasn’t hosted a world’s fair since the New Orleans played host in 1984.