Minnesota Vikings and execs from the other 31 NFL teams are making their way to Atlanta this morning.
The owners have their Spring meeting at the Ritz Carlton in the Buckhead part of town. The action doesn't start until Monday afternoon, but expect the Minnesota Vikings' contingent to be lobbying the fellow owners privately for the 2018 Super Bowl.
Team VP Lester Bagley says he and others, including owners Mark and Zygi Wilf, have specific lobbying assignments among the other team owners. No word on who gets Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys - probably the biggest household name among the owners. (Seriously, try to name some others. Rooney, Irsay, Mara - but what do they look like?)
Bagley says Zygi Wilf is friendly with Jax Jaguars owner Shahid (Shad) Khan, a Lahore, Pakistan native, now U.S. citizen billionaire (estimated $3.8B, owns Illinois-headquarted Flex-n-Gate auto parts) who also owns England's Fulham FC Football (soccer) League champion. He came to the U.S. at age 16, staying in a $2 room at a YMCA his first night before working his way to an engineering degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
But I digress. US Bancorp's Richard Davis and Carlson Cos. Marilyn Carlson Nelson will make the 15-minute multimedia pitch to the NFL owners Tuesday to try to get the 2018 Super Bowl to the new $1 billion stadium. Only two people are allowed to speak - but the owners will hear other voices via the presentation.
The NFL owners should be appreciative of the Twin Cities' bid because of the stadium which was "built to host a Super Bowl," Bagley has said.
Bagley is familiar with the owners himself because he has given them regular stadium updates during their meetings for the past several years. The publicly subsidized project took years to win legislative approval and remains controversial to opponents.
The Vikings are to play their first season in the new facility, nearly double the size of the Metrodome, in 2016. Recent tradition has been to give the new Super Bowl to new stadiums in the same time frame - after two regular seasons are played at the facility. First Dallas and now San Francisco (Santa Clara).
The Minnesota crew gets a one-hour prep session some time between 5 and 8 p.m. tonight.
In other news, this reporter saw college hoops legend Bobby Knight and his wife at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Sunday at 4 a.m. Knight and his wife were heading toward security. The retired Indiana basketball coach wore rumpled khakis and a cozy sweatshirt. He carried his own well-worn duffle bags (no logos in sight.) Curious to see if the NFL owners schlep their own bags.
NFL owners follow a pretty loose schedule for their meetings. The discussions are not open to the public, but the Super Bowl vote will be broadcast live on the NFL Network on Tuesday. There is no time certain for the presentations.
In somewhat related Atlanta action, the Falcons break ground on a new $1 billion ceremony at 8 p.m. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will attend - in a sign that stadiums are important to the league.