Signs point you clearly and emphatically to the various Super Bowl media areas at the Mall of America, the massive shopping complex in Bloomington that this week is doubling as a hub for all things related to the big game Sunday.
There is the media center: a sea of connected tables, power strips and cables. There is the media lounge and news conference areas, where player and coach interviews will be conducted: self explanatory. All of this is fairly distant from the public eye, behind doors on the second floor.
But if you go up one level to the third floor of Mall of America, by the food court — sorry, Culinary on North as the more upscale quick options are now referred to as a group — suddenly you find a massive mingling area informally known as "radio row."
When I looked up, Shake Shack was about a first down away from me. Directly behind me was Moose Mountain Adventure Golf.
Here you can find national radio, local radio and everything in-between. And the Star Tribune, of course. None of us is explicitly wearing signs that say it, but we might as well have placards on our tables next to our company names that read: "Desperately seeking content."
As someone covering a Super Bowl for the first time, this spectacle is all new. Upon arrival before 9 a.m. Monday, things already were warming up — not full-throttle, which we will achieve later in the week as Super Bowl gets closer, but the vibe was clear.
Potential radio and podcast guests were mingling around, almost all of them with something to sell or pitch. Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, a former Patriots star, was being interviewed by a bunch of radio stations. He moved deftly from spot to spot, all on behalf of a national jewelry company.
A flier on my table when I arrived was pitching an interview with Minneapolis native Joe Laurinaitis, Road Warrior Animal of pro wrestling fame (um, yes please, that was an easy booking). Within 20 minutes, I'd been pitched another interview with someone else with a book to sell.
Almost the entire area was surrounded by a half-wall that serves as the "fan gallery" where people strolling through the mall — or here specifically for Super Bowl-related activities — could observe radio row.
Vikings fans, still stung by the NFC Championship Game loss to the Eagles and recognizing this week would have been entirely different had that outcome been reversed, were nevertheless part of the crowd. There was a boy in a Harrison Smith jersey, plus two older fans showing their eras of fandom by wearing Steve Jordan and Fran Tarkenton jerseys.
The out-of-town media marveled at the scale and size of the Mall of America, sprinkling in some jokes about the Minnesota weather in the process. (Hint: It's cold here, and it's only going to get colder as the week goes on). The phrase, "I'm trying to gather my bearings" was used frequently.
A significant percentage of everyone working already looked tired and/or stressed out, seemingly forgetting two important things: One, this is going to be a long week and we need to pace ourselves. Two, this is all about a game. Shouldn't it be fun?
Even through all the craziness, I sure hope so.