It’s officially Super Bowl week, which means there are officially going to be about 9,000 opportunities for you to be separated from your money in the next week. The discerning local fan wants to know what’s worth it and what isn’t — particularly if you haven’t shelled out thousands of dollars on tickets to the game itself.
As such, the Super Bowl Experience at the Minneapolis Convention Center is a viable option.
“This event becomes the Super Bowl for a lot of people who live here,” said Mary Pat Augenthaler, the NFL’s VP of events.
It’s an interactive pop-up museum of sorts, with everything from Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibits to tests of skill. Interestingly, the event — which used to be known as the NFL Experience before a recent rebranding — originated with the last Super Bowl in Minneapolis in 1992.
I can’t definitively tell you it’s worth the price of admission — $35 for adults, $25 for kids 12 and under — since that’s ultimately for you to decide. But here are some highlights and tips from a trip through the exhibits:
• There are some nice historical touches, including a look at the NFL year-by-year as well as cool artifacts from the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Clustered together in one area were eight busts from Canton of players with Vikings ties. Directly between Cris Carter and Bud Grant? Brett Favre, the former Vikings great who also played for other teams.
• One level is devoted in part to an area for skills and drills clinics for kids. In that same area, you will find a giant team photograph of the 2017 Vikings, and you’re encouraged to take a selfie along with it — maybe even next to all three free-agent quarterbacks, who are pictured in a row?
• The best part, though, is clearly the interactive games that have been a staple of this event for decades.
You can try running a 40-yard dash, with Chiefs speedster Kareem Hunt digitally running next to you. (I tried this, and the timing mechanism wasn’t working so the only thing we know for sure is that I was slower than Hunt’s time of 4.52 seconds.) You can also compete in the high jump and other NFL combine events. Or, if you prefer, try your luck at kicking a field goal. No joke: I lined up for what I estimated was a 27-yarder and missed wide left. It’s not as easy as you might think.
• Plan to make a day out of it — not just to get your money’s worth but because there is a lot to see. Augenthaler said the average person spends four hours from start to finish.
• While there are several opportunities to spend even more money once you’re inside, it is good to know that all player autographs are free and included with admission.
• The event opened Saturday and closes Saturday. Augenthaler encouraged local fans to come before Thursday, when crowds will swell as more out-of-town visitors arrive.