HOUSTON – Your turn, Minnesota.
As the ceremonial handoff of the Super Bowl ball took place in Texas Monday, “Super Bowl 52” countdown clocks were unveiled on billboards in Minnesota. Bridges and buildings will glow blue and purple to evoke the Northern Lights. For state organizers, it’s show time.
A couple hundred members of the media watched Monday’s handoff — in no small part because Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick immediately followed the Minnesotans.
They were treated to a series of video snippets, from actors on the Guthrie Theater stage to the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, to doctors at the Mayo Clinic to Paul Bunyan, Snoopy, Sid Hartman and, finally, former Vikings Coach Bud Grant saying, “Welcome to Minnesota.”
Super Bowl Host Committee Co-Chairman Richard Davis noted that Minnesota is one of the few NFL franchises that represents an entire state. Standing with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Davis joined the three Wilfs who own the Vikings, Minnesota Committee Co-Chairs Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Ecolab CEO Doug Baker in taking the ceremonial football from their Houston counterparts.
In 51 years, the NFL has held Super Bowls in northern cities only a handful of times. The Minnesotans, as they have throughout the bidding process, adhered to what will became a familiar theme: Chilly outside, warm inside.
In February in Minnesota, “You can see people walking around without jackets even with very cold temperatures because that’s what we do,” Davis said. “By the way, the temperature inside the stadium will be 72 degrees.”
The Super Bowl with the attendant hoopla, including the host city-sponsored Super Bowl Live and the NFL-sponsored NFL Experience, is projected by Minnesota sponsors to be a $400 million event. In Houston, some 1.3 million visitors attended the free “Live” festival with concerts, food trucks and the Puppy Bowl, said host committee chairman Ric Campo.
Rolling the ceremonial football in her hands, Minnesota host committee CEO Maureen Bausch queried Campo and Houston host committee CEO Sallie Sargent.
Sargent told her to put off nothing, saying, “Every day that goes by, you lose leverage.”
Among the Minnesota duties in the coming year: securing dozens of venues for parties, events, work space, staging and security.
The Super Bowl also requires 10,000 volunteers. Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, who wears No. 52, was tapped as the public cheerleader of the effort.
Most of the planners had flights home late Monday and a week of rollout events ahead. But the morning after Super Bowl 51, for one last time, it was smiles and fun.
Carlson Nelson ran over to Brady and told him, “Come up to Minnesota; you can get one more.” She said he responded, “ ‘I love Minnesota.’ ”