ATLANTA – The Minneapolis Super Bowl crew will kick off the competition for the 2018 Super Bowl Tuesday afternoon.
The team, led by U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis and Carlson Cos. Board Chair Marilyn Carlson Nelson, is first up and gets exactly 15 minutes to make its bid to NFL owners.
“We’ll set the bar high,” Davis said Monday after a practice session.
Davis and Carlson Nelson are the only two speakers per NFL rules, but they’re bringing in star power reinforcement in the effort to win the right to host the 2018 game.
The multimedia presentation will feature video of Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and legendary coach Bud Grant. For competitive reasons, the nature of their video appearances was closely guarded.
Davis and Carlson Nelson practiced the presentation Monday in a closed-door session in the same Ritz-Carlton Buckhead conference room where the owners of the 32 teams will meet to make the decision Tuesday. New Orleans and Indianapolis are the other two finalists. They present second and third, respectively.
After the practice session, the Minnesotans headed upstairs for more practice on their banter and queuing of the video.
“We’re very casual,” Davis said. “We’re making this a story instead of a presentation.”
Carlson Nelson said going first should be a good omen. “We’re very excited. We feel ready,” she said. “We’ve got the stadium; our whole city is being renewed and refreshed.”
The committee also released the would-be logo for the game featuring the Roman numeral 52 inside an outline of the new Vikings stadium, which opens in 2016. The North Star appears on the upper left corner. The colors purple, blue and green signify the Vikings and the northern lights. When turned on its side, the logo begins to form the shape of Minnesota.
“It symbolizes a lot about us,” Carlson Nelson said.
The other stars of the pitch: Minnesota taxpayers for paying half the cost of the $1 billion stadium. The NFL owners know plenty about the team’s years of lobbying for the stadium. Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said he gave owners regular updates during their meetings.
When a community foots part of the bill for a new stadium, it’s a strong sign of support and something that hits owners where it matters: their pocketbooks. New stadiums funnel more money into the league and the owners’ bank accounts.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones claimed late Monday he hadn’t settled on a 2018 Super Bowl city. “We do that when we hear those great presentations,” he said with a big smile, adding, “You know why they make it a secret ballot, don’t you?”
The NFL Network will broadcast the voting, but who votes for where is never revealed.
In recent years, new stadiums have drawn the big game. Dallas hosted after the second season in its new stadium. San Francisco will host in 2016 after the second season in its new Santa Clara stadium.
Asked if the NFL owed the Twin Cities a Super Bowl for building a stadium, Bagley said a decisive “no.”
Top-notch tourist town New Orleans wants the game for the kickoff to its tricentennial celebration. The city has hosted 10 Super Bowls. Even Melvin Tennant of Meet Minneapolis said the cities can’t compare directly with New Orleans. “We’re not focused on their assets,” he said, adding that the bid highlights what Minnesota can offer.
Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen added that despite the winter, “Our venue is warm.” She also pointed out the advantages of light-rail transit that will bring visitors close to the stadium and buses that could complete the trip.
Carlson Nelson added, “One of the things, frankly, that Minnesota does best is logistics.”
Davis flew in later than the rest of the contingent Monday afternoon, fresh off giving the commencement speech at his alma mater, Cal State Fullerton.
Davis said he gets excited, not nervous before an audience. “If you know what you’re talking about and you’re excited to tell a story, it comes off pretty good,” he said.