If we build it, will they come -- in February?
A day after the Legislature agreed to help build a new football stadium for the Vikings on the site of the Metrodome, team president Mark Wilf said the community should try to lure a Super Bowl and its mythic Roman numerals -- possibly game number LI (51) in 2017.
"I know that the Super Bowl process typically happens, I believe, in the spring time frame," Wilf said. "So, potentially, as soon as a year from now we could be a bidder. We haven't talked to [National Football League] officials yet about it, but we see no reason why we wouldn't be ripe to put in a bid for a Super Bowl.
"We're hopeful," Wilf said, "and we'll do everything we can as owners to persuade our partners that it's a great community, and let's have a Super Bowl here -- hopefully, as soon as 2017."
An NFL official acknowledged that the presence of a new stadium is "viewed favorably" by the 32 owners who pick the Super Bowl cities. Six new stadiums have been selected to host the game since 2004.
The last time the Twin Cities threw up a roofed football arena, the Metrodome in 1982, the Super Bowl was 10 years in coming. On Jan. 26, 1992, the Dome hosted Super Bowl XXVI (26) between the Washington Redskins and the Buffalo Bills. The Dome was in its heyday then, hosting baseball's All-Star game in 1985, the World Series in 1987 and 1991 and college basketball's Final Four in 1992 and 2001.
Sam Grabarski, head of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said the goal with the new facility is to design a stadium that is "Super Bowl-ready," which means making sure it is a "state-of-the-art facility" with all the amenities the NFL is looking for, and then to begin making the pitch. "I would bet on us getting into the queue soon," he said.
The most recent public-private stadium project, the Twins' Target Field in Minneapolis, is in the "queue" for baseball's annual All-Star game and hopes to land it in 2014. The ballfield was opened in 2010.
Despite Minneapolis landing the '92 game, pro football's premier event remains a long shot for northern climes. Only four of 46 games have been held outside the "Super Bowl Belt" in the nation's southern tier. Florida, New Orleans and Southern California account for nearly three-fourths of all Super Bowl game sites.
The league has a comfort-level rule that requires domes and climate control for Super Bowls in cities with temperatures below 50 degrees on game day. That allowed new roofed venues in Indianapolis and Detroit to win the game in recent years, while newer open-air stadiums in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Seattle and Denver have been out of luck. The league waived its rule to grant the game to the new stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in 2014.
Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign the Vikings legislation on Monday. The last step then will be a vote by the Minneapolis City Council.
Staff writer Mike Kaszuba and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042