The new Minnesota Vikings stadium isn't quite a "Field of Dreams" just yet but it has proven that if you build a state-of-the-art facility the NFL will use its signature event as a reward, no matter the outpost.
New Orleans had never lost a Super Bowl bid before Tuesday when Minnesota was selected to host Super Bowl LII in February of 2018 over both the Crescent City as well as Indianapolis.
The Minnesota Super Bowl Bid Committee delivered the successful presentation, centered on the theme "Built for the Bold," to all 32 NFL owners at the league's annual spring meeting in Atlanta
After four rounds of voting, owners selected Minneapolis by a simple majority over NOLA, which suffered a bit of a black eye from the blackout which interrupted Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in February of 2013.
"We appreciate the collaborative effort from Minnesota's business and community leadership in putting together this winning bid," said Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf. "It was evident to me and my brother Zygi that the other NFL owners were extremely impressed with everything Minnesota had to offer, and we have no doubt they will be even more excited with what the community will deliver in February 2018."
The Minnesota bid highlighted the stadium, which is currently under construction and scheduled to open in time for the 2016 NFL season.
By all accounts Minneapolis received a passing grade back in 1992 when the city hosted Super Bowl XXVI between the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills but it was never seriously considered again for the big game.
The reasons were obvious and substantial. The Metrodome quickly morphed into an outdated facility and people (read that the media) were never going to clamor to go to America's coldest major city during the brunt of winter.
In fact, if you were going to pick any city to break New Orleans' perfect 10- for-10 Super Bowl-bid streak, perhaps you might have taken a stab with Miami or perhaps San Diego with a new venue.
But, Minnesota shooting for the same year as New Orleans' tricentennial?
Any time you talk about Minneapolis in February, weather has to be in the conversation. High temperatures that time of the year generally range from 24 to 33 degrees over the course of month, with lows hovering between eight to 18 degrees.
One cold snap, though, and you could be talking about temperatures in the negative numbers, along with snow, meaning travel could be a major issue for many people arriving from out of state.
That said, once everyone does arrive, things are expected to be far less hairier than they were in north Jersey this year.
The new Vikings stadium, which will typically seat 65,400 but will be made expandable to 72,000 seats for the 2018 Super Bowl, will have a clear roof and five of the largest glass pivoting doors in the world, enabling fans to get the outdoor feel in a climate-controlled environment.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis skyway system is among the best in the world, encompassing nearly 70 city blocks over eight miles with 6,000 hotel rooms attached. In other words, once you check into your hotel in downtown, its conceivable you will never have to go outside until it's time to leave.
"We are thrilled to bring the Super Bowl back to Minnesota," said Richard Davis, chief executive officer of U.S. Bank and the bid committees co-chair. "We succeeded in making the best case to the NFL owners by pointing out the many strengths our region offers. A tremendous entertainment and hospitality industry, strong connectivity with both our light rail and skyway systems, and perhaps most important, a new, iconic stadium that will be among the best in the country."
The real reason Minnesota won on Tuesday, however, had nothing to do with the skyway, the blackout or even the brilliance of the new stadium, it was because the taxpayers of the state antied up nearly $500 million to build the new facility, a stunning commitment from a notoriously liberal state which abhors boondoggles and subsidizing billionaires like Zygi Wilf.
It was a tip of the cap to Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, who used every bit of political capital he had to get the Vikings their new stadium and keep the franchise from bolting to perceived greener pastures like Los Angeles.
Dayton's support was the lynchpin in getting state lawmakers to provide funding for the new stadium, and the hot-button issue dominated much of his first two years in office.
The governor took a well-deserved victory lap after news of the Super Bowl win surfaced.
"Hosting the Super Bowl will provide a terrific opportunity to showcase Minnesota to the world," Dayton said in a statement issued by his office shortly after the vote. "It will also bring major economic benefits to our state."
Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey back in February was estimated to have a $600 million economic impact on the region. A year earlier the big game produced a total of $480 million in net economic impact for the New Orleans metro area.
The moral of this story?
If you build it (with public money), the NFL will come.