The Vikings have tossed their hat into the ring to host yet another Super Bowl, as well as an NFL draft — both national extravaganzas that bring in thousands of out-of-town visitors and millions of dollars.
Both events the Vikings are eyeing are years down the road, but the team had to submit its “expression of interest” to the NFL by an Aug. 9 deadline.
Touting their success at hosting Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2018, the team and Twin Cities boosters believe they have a good shot at reeling in another major NFL event, and they told the NFL they’re interested in becoming the site for the Super Bowl in 2028, 2029 or 2030. The team also would like to host the NFL draft in 2024, 2025 or 2026.
“We let them know we’re a serious contender,” said Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley. “We have a great market. We have great hospitality, venues, hotels and restaurants. Super Bowl LII was by all accounts, including those from the NFL leadership, one of the best-organized and -operated. And the Final Four last year was exceptional. So we’ve done a great job on these major events.”
But long before a formal bid is submitted, Twin Cities organizers already are talking about how to raise money to attract and put on these major sporting events. More than $52 million in private funds was raised for Super Bowl LII.
“We have a very engaged corporate community,” said Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis and executive director of Sports Minneapolis. “But we certainly understand that they’ve been asked to do a lot in recent years.”
To offset some of that, the search is on for ways to provide sustained funding from other sources, Tennant said. “We don’t know what the options are, but we’re in the process of studying other communities and how they handle these issues,” he said.
The financial hurdle, however, isn’t enough to deter local interest in big events that require cities to raise large amounts of money and enlist thousands of volunteers.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to host major events to highlight the area and create economic benefit to sustain jobs in the hospitality industry,” Tennant said.
A planning extravaganza
The Super Bowl is one of the biggest and most complicated events cities can host.
In bidding for it, the Twin Cities, like all host communities, had to agree to hundreds of conditions to provide services and spaces at no cost to the NFL. Then there are the logistics of moving thousands of people in and out of town as well as around it during the 10-day celebration. For example, Metro Transit provided 210,000 more rides than usual during the 10-day event. The day after the game, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport set a record with more than 60,000 travelers passing through security on their way out of town.
Cities and their boosters contend the multiyear planning and elaborate orchestration of these mega events give them invaluable exposure on the national stage that could entice even more people to town as well as provide a financial boost to local businesses.
Pennsylvania-based Rockport Analytics calculated a $370 million boost from the 2018 Super Bowl. Critics don’t dispute the Super Bowl provides an economic jolt, but it might be less than what Rockport estimated. Rockport estimated that the NCAA’s Final Four at Bank Stadium earlier this year gave the local economy a $143 million boost.
“We want another NFL event,” Bagley said. “If we push hard for the Super Bowl and push hard for the draft, hopefully we’ll get one of them here. Detroit is in the hunt and so is New York again.”
Minnesota, however, can lean on its successful track record with the Super Bowl and the Final Four, he said. Minnesota also hosted the Super Bowl in 1992.
The Vikings have eyed landing the NFL draft for several years, Bagley said. The annual draft, once rooted in New York, has gone on the road to Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and Nashville. It will be held in Las Vegas next year, Bagley said.
Aside from the draft and the Super Bowl, Bagley said the Vikings also will lobby to get NFL team owners to hold one of several meetings they have each year in Minnesota at the 14-story, 320-room hotel adjacent to the team’s new headquarters in Eagan that’s expected to open in September 2020.
“There’s no formalized process to bid for that,” Bagley said. “There’s little economic benefit but it’s an opportunity our elevate our market, our brand and our community.”