The Twin Cities Super Bowl bid committee touches down in Atlanta on Monday with a message for NFL owners: You’re due for a visit.
A blue-chip Twin Cities panel is trying to win the bid for the 2018 Super Bowl, which will be the 52nd in league history.
Of the first 51 games, only five were played in northern cities. In addition to one game in Minneapolis, the Super Bowl game was played in Detroit in 1982 and 2006, Indianapolis in 2012 and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., this year.
“There’s no entitlement. This has to be earned, and we are making a very strong case,” Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said.
U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis and Carlson Cos. Chairwoman Marilyn Carlson Nelson will lead the multimedia presentation for the Twin Cities in the allotted 15-minute presentation to the owners Tuesday. Thus far, they’ve revealed little about the bid other than to say they will render a vision of a red-cheeked region that snaps up the parka and plunges into the chill by racing on skis across frozen lakes, gazing at ice castles and plummeting down a slide on razor-like blades.
The owners of the 32 teams will decide among Minneapolis, New Orleans and Indianapolis. All the cities are adhering to a pledge of silence around their bids. Other than to say it has easily snapped up corporate pledges of about $30 million, the Minneapolis bid committee has been silent.
Indianapolis has said it has money for the game and that Colts owner Jim Irsay is out of rehab after a DWI arrest and will be present for the vote.
Bill Lester, who used to run the Metrodome, said the Super Bowl is the second-biggest catch for a U.S. city in sports, behind the Olympics.
“If the NFL owners do not award the bid to Minneapolis in 2018, they should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
A winning New Orleans bid for the 2018 game would be the 11th time the city brought home the big game, breaking a tie for first place with Miami, which has hosted 10 Super Bowl games.
Twin Cities sports communications and Super Bowl bid veteran Dave Mona said part of the Twin Cities’ pitch could be, “Look, you know you’re going to be back to New Orleans soon; this is an opportunity to do something you haven’t done in 20 years.”
When the Twin Cities won the 1992 game — on the third year of trying — Detroit was the only northern city to have played host to a Super Bowl. Mona said the 1992 crew explained to the owners that if they bypassed Minneapolis, “they would be saying that from then on there are only two kinds of Super Bowls — southern Super Bowls and Detroit.”
The game is coveted by league cities because it goes above being the summit of the season. It comes with a two-week media circus. Estimates are some 4,000 credentialed media members report on the preamble and the game. The Super Bowl means private jets, fireworks, confetti, beer and champagne. It’s one of the most over-the-top spectacles in sports, which supporters say brings millions in to the host community and an incalculable civic boost.
It’s understandable that the owners would feel the pull of the Crescent City, with its restaurants, unique sense of place and laissez-faire approach to, well, everything.
“It’s guaranteed good weather. It’s a fun place to visit. It handles a party really well, and it’s a downtown venue. They love New Orleans. They’d probably go there every year,” Mona said.
No final sweeteners
As the boosters have noted, the Twin Cities are ready for a chance to show off the transformation since 1992, some of it to come, including a transit system and state-of-the-art, climate-controlled $1 billion stadium.
Often described by the Vikings as built for a Super Bowl, the facility is the critical card in Minnesota’s hand — at least until the next one is built. NFL owners eyeing new stadiums are keenly aware of the public subsidy and the years of Sisyphean lobbying by the team to get it.
“The NFL feels this is the crown jewel of what they can give to a community for its support,” Mona said, adding that “the league is now one of the most savvy marketing entities in the world.”
For the 1992 game, part of Minneapolis’ pitch was the chocolate ducks that Carlson Nelson put in owners’ rooms. There will be no final flourishes this year.
The league restricts to $100 the gifts that bid cities give to owners. (The tablets on which the Minneapolis bid was submitted are expected to be donated to charity after the city has been chosen.)
It’s too late to attempt to sweeten the deal. League spokesman Brian McCarthy said the cities “may not enhance their bids beyond what was already submitted. They may not enhance their bids on site at the meeting.”
Mona said the wealthy proprietors would give the goody bags to underlings, adding, “The owners are probably not overwhelmed by Nut Goodies.”