Exhausted, happy and finished, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee leaders closed out the 10-day extravaganza Monday morning by delivering the ceremonial football to next year's host: Atlanta. The economic and tourism benefit — if there was one — will be analyzed and debated for years. Some will say the game brought $300 million into town and incalculable positive PR. Others will say the subsidies and perks given to the NFL negate any tourism boost. What's indisputable is that lots of people had fun. The critiques will continue, and we'll kick things off here.
The "Bold North" theme hit the bull's-eye, Super Bowl Live was lively and there were no major disasters, or even major messes.
Organizers worked out the logistical details of getting 65,000 fans into a stadium on a frozen day and throwing a nightly party on Nicollet Mall while still allowing commuters and residents to (mostly) move around downtown.
Minneapolis did take on a military feel, but the Big Game came and went with no real problems. Despite losing a private security firm for background check failures midway through Super Bowl Live, everybody stayed safe.
And U.S. Bank Stadium kept the lights on (sorry New Orleans), even if the floors were a bit slippery.
From the 10,000 zipliners who flew across the Mississippi River to the long lines for the Kitten Bowl to dressing and coordinating 10,000 volunteers and throwing a party for thousands of visiting media from around the world, there didn't appear to be a clunker in the operation of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.
And they raised a cool $53 million in donations to pay for it.
On the Monday after the game, COO Dave Haselman summed up the event as operationally "boring."
That means the stacks of plans, spreadsheets and contingencies he worked on for more than three years had worked.
Grade: A (though next time they need more zipline slots)
Ask three Minneapolis restaurateurs to assess their Super Bowl experience, and you'll likely receive three different answers.
With ESPN broadcasting about 25 feet from her IDS Crystal Court kiosk, Bogart's Doughnut Co. owner Anne Rucker said sales were four to five times greater than normal.
"It was really cool to see downtown bustling, it was like a different city," she said. "And now I'm totally decompressing."
Bep Eatery co-owner Thanh Myhre has one word for Super Bowl week: "Horrible," he said. "All the little guys got kind of screwed over."
His double-whammy theory? His two skyway restaurants — in LaSalle Plaza and Fifth Street Towers — were too far from tourist-centric Nicollet Mall, and his regular customers stayed home.
Bar La Grassa in the North Loop, 112 Eatery in the Warehouse District and Burch Steak and Pizza Bar on Lowry Hill all had mixed results, said co-owner Nancy St. Pierre. Early in the week was quiet and "Sunday was a bust," she said. "But Thursday, Friday and Saturday? They were fantastic, exactly what we thought they would be. The people were really nice. They were here to have fun, and you got caught up in that when you were around them."
For the first time, Bar La Grassa and Burch were open at lunch. Neither was particularly busy.
"That's OK," said St. Pierre with a laugh. "We live and learn."
Visitors from Boston and Philadelphia were pleasantly surprised with our public transportation over the past week. The locals? Not so much.
"It was easy to get around with the light rail and bus," said Bostonian Mike Finstein, who used public transportation to get to Mall of America and downtown. Eagles fan Michael Rosset, agreed, saying using Metro Transit "was easy."
But bus service was hamstrung by detours and buses that ran severely late, especially around Nicollet Mall festivities.
Having no light rail Sunday, as all trains were earmarked for Super Bowl ticket holders, was "annoying and irritating," said Tristan Green, who spent an hour getting from downtown to the airport. It's usually 22 minutes.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, however, with 20 bomb-sniffing dogs, 100 extra Transportation Security Administration screeners on duty and a rarely used configuration to speed travelers through checkpoints, managed to efficiently move 70,000 people through security Monday.
Even when the lines for the north and south security checkpoints overlapped in the middle of Terminal 1, the longest wait time during the morning rush was clocked at 23 minutes by the TSA.
Dozens of volunteers helped keep foot traffic moving.
Mall of America
For the Mall of America, being a central hub for all things Super Bowl was a windfall, drawing celebrities, NFL players and media from around the world.
Nickelodeon Universe hosted three private parties — one for each of the teams and one for media. The Patriots and Eagles filled two hotels attached to the mall — the Radisson Blu and J.W. Marriot.
There were more than a million visits to the mall last week, roughly 30 percent more than a typical week, officials said.
So did people buy things? The north side food court, especially Shake Shack, was hopping. And several stores reported an uptick in sales, some by 50 percent, according to mall officials, while stores on the other side of the mall didn't seem to benefit as much.
And one can't put a price on the countless media mentions the mall racked up as it filled unleased space in its two-year-old north addition with hundreds of journalists. The mall served as the Super Bowl's media center, which spilled out onto the mall's corridors with its "Radio Row," itself a magnet for fans.
Steve Politi, a columnist for the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, called it the "strangest Super Bowl setup in years." "As hundreds of journalists and former players are breathlessly broadcasting the latest NFL news around the globe, dozens of old ladies are breathlessly power-walking around the food court for their morning exercise."
What's not to love? An expected 125,000 out-of-town visitors over 10 days. For hotels, the Super Bowl rush will likely be a boon, though it may only give a negligible bump in revenue by the year's end.
The Hilton Minneapolis, the largest hotel in the state with 821 guest rooms, was completely booked this past weekend.
"The unusual part is just the sheer volume of people that were in our hotel," said Kimberly Zoulek, director of sales and marketing at the Hilton. "I have never seen anything quite like that."
The hotel hosted private parties as well as several large official events.
Carter Wilson, a vice president at STR, which analyzes Super Bowl hotel data, said he expected area hotel room revenue to jump 400 to 500 percent this past weekend compared to an average February weekend. "It's pretty quiet in February normally so I think Minneapolis' lift is going to be substantial," Wilson said.
Despite the bump, positive effects may be short-lived.
According to data from advisory group CBRE Hotels, several recent Super Bowl host cities experienced lower revenue per available room during Super Bowl years than they did on average.
"It's not likely to be the big jackpot that people might have thought," said Mark Eble, of CBRE.
Still, who else wants to visit in the dead of winter?
Music fueled celebrations all over town, but the home team's efforts centered on the Super Bowl Live concert series.
Organizers made a smart choice in drafting Minneapolis music giants Jimmy "Jam" Harris and Terry Lewis to produce nightly shows on Nicollet Mall. Their game plan: to showcase the wide variety of outstanding music in Minnesota and invite locals to the party.
Mission accomplished. Because the shows were free, they drew Minnesotans of all stripes unfazed by the bitter cold. And musicians rose to the challenge like champions, playing joyfully through Lambeau-like conditions on a stage setup that was problematic at best. (Although kickoff act Idina Menzel seemed to not enjoy the conditions — and that was on the warm night.)
"There is no warmer place on Earth than right here," Jimmy Jam said as he introduced Soul Asylum on Saturday.
Elsewhere, the reopening of the Armory for the Nomadic Live concert series was a solid hit that established the 1930s venue as a welcome newcomer to the downtown scene.
But Nomadic's plans for a similar splash at Mystic Lake went flat. And the high-buck club parties were a mixed bag that left some fans feeling shortchanged (we're looking at you, Cardi B). Score this one for the home team.
Mystic Lake was supposed to be the suburban Super Bowl spot, with a new $90 million luxury hotel and exclusive concerts in pop-up digs that in Houston hosted Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars.
Instead, the mostly built venue on the casino's parking lot was shut down and the concerts, from Gwen Stefani, Florida Georgia Line, the Chainsmokers and Kygo, downsized and prices slashed. Now Mystic Lake is mired in a lawsuit with concert promoter Club Nomadic Entertainment Group over who is to blame.
But the hotel was full.
St. Paul fared much better, with its ice castle in Rice Park and the Super Slide at CHS Field. Xcel Energy Center and RiverCentre hosted popular Super Bowl events.
Hotels were busy, even if that didn't spill to other businesses such as his, said Jay Johnson, general manager of the Liffey Irish Pub by the Xcel. But Friday and Saturday nights when the Xcel hosted a Wild game and Dave Matthews Band concert, business was good.
Tracy Yungner, of Fridley, and two friends snapped photos with the ice sculptures at Rice Park before hitting Super Bowl Opening Night at Xcel. They wanted to be a part of the excitement, she said.
At CHS Field, the 130-foot Super Slide proved popular, selling 5,355 of the 7,000 available slide tickets to date, with a few days still to go, St. Paul Saints General Manager Derek Sharrer said. The slide is open until Feb. 10.
Liz Sawyer, Jessie Van Berkel