Minnesota sports fans know well the feelings that members of the state’s World Expo bid committee must be experiencing — the peculiar mix of pain and pride that results from coming close but not quite winning the prize. Buenos Aires, Argentina, not Bloomington, Minnesota, will host the three-month World Expo in 2023, the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) decided in Paris on Wednesday.
It’s a disappointing result, particularly for former Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. He believed early in the vision of a summerlong showcase of Minnesota’s approach to health and wellness and has worked tirelessly for three years as president and CEO of the bid committee. He assembled an impressive team and a board of directors headed by Marilyn Carlson Nelson, raised entirely from private donors the $1.7 million cost of preparing the bid, and navigated a complicated process that included persuading the U.S. government to rejoin the BIE after discontinuing its membership in 2001.
That renewed membership is among several enduring fruits of Minnesota’s bid. It means that American cities — including the Twin Cities — can compete more easily in the future for a six-month World’s Fair or a three-month World Expo. Houston and San Francisco are at work on a bid for 2025.
More benefits are bound to come from the 170-nation exposure the bid secured for Minnesota and the association it created for this state with the 2023 Expo’s intended theme, “Healthy People, Healthy Planet: Wellness and Wellbeing for All.” That’s a fitting brand for Minnesota as it steps up its role in the global economy. It ought not disappear from Minnesota consciousness as the Expo bid committee dissolves.
The committee is bound to analyze the BIE outcome before turning out the lights. We urge that its findings be shared with Minnesotans. This state’s ambition to attract major national and international events, which seemed to wane in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has nicely revived. It’s likely to intensify as an NFL Super Bowl is played here in a few months and an NCAA Final Four comes in 2019. The Expo 2023 bid committee will do well to understand and disclose what caused this year’s bid to falter at the finish line, so that the next one stands a better chance to succeed.