Monday, January 27, 2014
Vikings put Super Bowl bid in motion
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Vikings put some formal momentum into their bid for the 2018 Super Bowl on Monday morning, announcing the team that will lead their effort to beat out Indianapolis and New Orleans for Super Bowl LII. Three Minnesota businesspeople -- Ecolab CEO Doug Baker, former Carlson Companies CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelson and U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis -- will co-chair the effort to land the game. The NFL will announce the destination in May after the owners' meetings.
The Vikings would seem to have a strong shot at landing the game, based on the NFL's recent history of rewarding markets that built new stadiums. Two of the last three Super Bowls have been played in new stadiums (Dallas and Indianapolis), and both this year's game and Super Bowl L after the 2015 season are scheduled to be in recently-opened venues (the New York Giants' and Jets' stadium this year, and San Francisco's new stadium in 2015).
Minnesota hosted Super Bowl XXVI after the 1991 season, but the game never came back to the Metrodome after that. The high in Minneapolis will be -8 today (yes, you read that right), and while this winter has been a cold one even by Minnesota's standards, the league wouldn't bring its signature event back to town with plans for many outdoor events -- though there was an ice castle in St. Paul before the 1992 game, as there was before the 2004 NHL All-Star Game. The fact that the Twin Cities has hosted a Super Bowl before, in addition to two Final Fours and the MLB All-Star Game this summer, should answer many of the questions about the market's ability to host big events, and plans for the Vikings' new stadium call for it to be connected to the city's skyway system (the Metrodome was not). Part of the reason Indianapolis gets so many major events is that the town's infrastructure is set up perfectly for them; changes to downtown Minneapolis probably won't put it quite on that level, but if the new stadium development goes according to plan, the city could have a good setup to handle the cold weather.
The choice of the business executives is interesting, too, in the sense that it could offer an early hint as to who will wind up with the naming rights to the Vikings' new stadium. The business community in Minnesota as a whole will benefit if the Super Bowl comes to town, but if, say, U.S. Bank Stadium is mentioned hundreds of times to a national audience before and during the game, the company could have a vested interest in bringing the game to town -- and developing a partnership with the Vikings before the bidding for naming rights begins.