Construction on the nearly $1 billion Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis is still weeks away, but already, the bold and glassy venue could be on track to host America’s premier sporting event.
Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley confirmed Tuesday that Minneapolis is one of three cities still in the running to host Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, 2018.
Other cities in the mix are Indianapolis and New Orleans, hosts of the 2012 and 2013 Super Bowls, respectively.
“Excellent!” Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Tuesday upon learning the news. “But it shouldn’t be a surprise because of course it should be in a great stadium and a great city.”
League owners are expected to make a final decision on the Super Bowl site at their spring meeting in Atlanta next May, said Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman.
“To me, the most exciting part of this is it is just the beginning of what I think are going to be many amazing economic development opportunities that this stadium is going to attract,” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing construction of the $975 million multipurpose stadium. “The impact, I think, is going to be significant.”
Kelm-Helgen said that the game, and the weeklong buildup to it, could generate more than $300 million for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses, based on economic impact studies in cities that hosted the Super Bowl in recent years.
If Minneapolis is selected for the 2018 game, it would mark the second time the event has come to the Twin Cities. The Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins played the 1992 Super Bowl at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which is scheduled to be razed early next year to make way for the new stadium, which is expected to open in July 2016.
The Super Bowl Advisory Committee pared the list of finalists for the 2018 game from six to three Tuesday — Tampa Bay, Dallas and Miami also submitted bids for the game — after Vikings owner Mark Wilf “made a pitch” to committee members and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the NFL owners’ quarterly meeting in Washington, D.C., Monday, Bagley said.
In promoting the Twin Cities and the state, Wilf “brought up that our organization worked with our political leaders for more than 12 years to secure a new stadium for our team,” Bagley said. “He also pointed out that during that long and contentious debate the Vikings made a commitment to hosting a Super Bowl in Minneapolis.”
The team has been working on the Super Bowl bid with Meet Minneapolis and an organizing committee led by Rob Moor of the Minnesota Timberwolves ever since the stadium financing legislation was approved in May 2012.
Now that Minneapolis is on the shortlist for 2018, the group will organize a host committee in coming weeks and “put together a full-court press and try and deliver this event,” Bagley said.
“It’s a weeklong celebration,” he added. “It’s 100,000 people who come to the community. It’s the marquee sporting event in the world. For a one-time deal, it’s got a tremendous upside for the community, and it’s something that we believe that this community deserves after the long-running battle on resolving the stadium issue.”
Each of the finalists will be expected to put together a bid package in coming months to submit to the NFL office by April 1, McCarthy said.
League officials will review the material and work with representatives from each city to refine the bids for final submission in early May.
Bidders will then make an oral presentation to the league’s 32 owners at their meeting in May. Owners will vote to select the site.
“We’re thrilled,” said Kristen Montag, a spokeswoman for Meet Minneapolis, the city’s convention and visitors association. “We think we have all the pieces in place and it’s just a matter of showing them what we have to offer.”
Over the past three decades, the Metrodome has played host to two World Series, two NCAA men’s basketball Final Fours and a Major League Baseball All-Star game. In 2008, the city of St. Paul hosted the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center.
Rybak said Tuesday that he envisions the new stadium being a comparable attraction for major sporting events and national conventions.
“We want this building to get us to the first tier of major national and global events,” he said.
Groundbreaking on the stadium is scheduled for mid-November.
“It’s designed to host a Super Bowl,” Bagley said of the stadium, designed by HKS Inc., which also drew up the design for stadiums in Indianapolis and Dallas, which have hosted recent Super Bowls. “It’s designed to provide a superior gameday experience for fans with seats and premium spaces that are among the closest to the action in the NFL.”
If Minneapolis were awarded the 2018 Super Bowl, it wouldn’t be the first city to get the game before the playing site was built.
Earlier this year, league owners voted to play the 2016 Super Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif., site of the still-unfinished home of the San Francisco 49ers.