Minnesota lost its bid to host the 2027 Expo, which will go to Serbia's capital city, Belgrade.

The United States' bid to host the supersized trade show was eliminated early Wednesday in a vote by the intergovernmental body called the International Bureau of Expositions, or BIE. The bureau organizes World's Fairs and the smaller Specialized Expos.

Bloomington was competing to host the latter type of event, organized around a theme of "Healthy People, Healthy Planet," drawing on Minnesota's health care economy and abundant natural space.

"Of course, we're disappointed," Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse said, adding that Bloomington would move on to the next big idea. "Bloomington has always thought big and always thought bold — going back to building Met Stadium in the middle of a cornfield."

Serbia's winning theme was "Play for Humanity: Sport and Music for All." Other bids came from Spain, Thailand and Argentina.

Organizers hoped the event would bring more than $2 billion in economic impact to Minnesota and millions of visitors, as well as spur development in vacant acres around the Mall of America.

"While Minnesota may not have been chosen as the host, we are incredibly proud of the effort, passion, and commitment that went into our bid," said Bob Clark, Minnesota USA World Expo 2027 bid committee co-chair and founder of the design-build firm Clayco.

John Stanoch, president and CEO of the bid committee, said he thought competing for the Expo raised Minnesota's global business profile.

"This process also created strong national and global relationships that will benefit Bloomington, the Greater MSP region, Minnesota and the United States for years to come," he said in a statement.

The 179 International Bureau of Expositions member countries each got a vote. Because no country won a two-thirds majority on the first round of voting, the lowest vote-getting countries were eliminated in successive rounds. Serbia and Spain were the final two countries after the U.S. bid was knocked out in the third round.

Stanoch said he thought the U.S. bid would be one of the final two countries, based on vote counts compiled by State Department staff. Coming in third place was a surprise, and a disappointment, he said.

Minnesota's yearslong push to host the event culminated with a furious effort to lobby member countries in the past month. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was helping to gather support, working with the State Department and the bid committee. Gov. Tim Walz had been making calls in recent weeks, too, and last week Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan was promoting Bloomington in meetings with global ambassadors in Washington, D.C.

Klobuchar said in a statement that the effort had united the state and country and put Minnesota in the spotlight on the world stage, which she said will pay dividends.

"Though this isn't the outcome we hoped for, we will continue to focus on bringing visitors from across the U.S. and around the world to our beautiful state," she said.

In October, an international delegation from the BIE visited Minnesota to explore the potential host location and talk with local leaders. During that visit, officials estimated the event could draw more than 14 million people.

Securing support from African countries had been a key piece of Minnesota's strategy to land the Expo.

Minnesota Africans United, a coalition of African immigrants across the state, has been lobbying for years on behalf of Minnesota's bid, said Basil Ajuo, the coalition's president and CEO. They pitched the idea to ambassadors and to ministers of foreign affairs and trade in countries across the continent, he said.

"We saw this Expo as a pathway to economic growth, to economic prosperity, for both sides of the Atlantic — for Africa, for America," Ajuo said.

The Legislature had committed $5 million to the Expo if Bloomington won, money that will now not be spent.

For Bloomington, Busse said he does not see the lost bid as a wasted effort.

"We took a shot and we came up short. I do think there's benefit to that," he said. "Bloomington is on a lot more radar screens of a lot more people nationally and internationally than ever before."