By Charles Hallman
Organizers of the 2018 Super Bowl, which the National Football League awarded to Minnesota last week, boast that it will be a “public-private partnership” expected to bring millions to the Twin Cities and integrate with other local winter activities.
Hosting the NFL championship game is expected to be the first marquee event at the new Vikings stadium now under construction, said Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. “The reason to build the stadium was not to win a Super Bowl but to bring jobs and economic growth to Minnesota,” he explained at the May 21 press conference at the State Capitol, a day after the bid was announced.
“The reason was to keep the Vikings here, and some 7,000 Minnesotans to work there for the next couple of years to build the stadium, Dayton said. But it also would “serve as a catalyst for other economic development” for downtown Minneapolis. “This is going to have a transformative impact on that region and the city and boost the economic base for the entire state,” Dayton continued. “That was the reason to do the project [and] to revitalize the downtown [area].”
The MSR then asked Dayton about the diversity of the people planning the event, since there was little diversity involved the last time this area hosted the game in 1992. “It will reflect the diversity of our metropolitan area and the diversity of our state,” Dayton promised.
“When we sit down and put together a host committee, it will reflect our diverse population,” added Minnesota Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley afterwards. “It’s important to our organization and it is important to the Stadium Authority and our business community. I think the governor answered it well. We’ll work on it and keep you posted.”
Melvin Tennant, Meet Minneapolis CEO, was a key member of the Minnesota contingent that worked on what would turn out to be the winning presentation, beating out finalists New Orleans and Indianapolis. He spoke last week exclusively to the MSR about the process.
Tennant said both corporate and civic leaders comprised “a great team of professionals” who were heavily involved in the planning stage, he pointed out. “Meet Minneapolis along with the Vikings were the first [groups] to touch the RFP [request for proposals] when it came from the NFL last year. We did the first analysis of it, to figure out and to make sure we could accommodate all of the requirements, as in the number of hotel rooms, all the different venues they needed and all those requirements.”
Although he has been involved in the past in preparing presentations for other national events, Tennant admitted that the Super Bowl pitch involved “several huge binders to respond to all the questions the RFP had” and it was itself unique and complex.
Asked how much time he believes was spent on the process, he responded, “I don’t think we could even yet qualify that. But I can tell you that literally dozens of people from a variety of organizations touched this bid.”
The Minnesota proposal also included requirements on hotel rates and “private airfields where the owners could come in and out,” reported Tennant. “Once we determined that we could actually fill those requirements, then we began the
process of preparing the bid, which was a huge, huge process.”
Tennant also was a key member of the group that earlier met with NFL officials “to put a fine point on all of the bid components” so that they would know exactly what to expect from the formal presentation, he explained. “When we got to Atlanta for the presentation, we had a couple of meetings with NFL staff the day before. We got a chance to look at the presentation room and what the setup was. Then each of the three cities had a ‘war room’ to rehearse.”
Tennant said during the three rounds of voting each city had an internal video feed. “We saw the commissioner at each of the four times he went to the podium to announce whether or not there was a winner,” he recalled. “It was a little nerve racking but a very intense process, and now that we have been awarded Super Bowl 52, obviously very satisfying.”
Reportedly, soon after the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston is completed, a local CEO will work with an NFL owner to begin the year-long planning effort for the 2018 game. Will Tennant be involved?
“I will continue to be a part of the steering committee,” said Tennant, who added that he believes that this group, along with other committees, will be diverse. “Richard Davis, Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Doug Baker all have expressed a strong commitment to diversity.”
U.S. Bank CEO Davis and former Carlson Company chair and CEO Carlson Nelson are the Minnesota 2018 Super Bowl presentation co-chairs. And Ecolab’s Douglas Baker was among several local business leaders in the video presentation shown last week to the NFL owners.
“Yes, having an experience putting a bid is very important, but this was beyond any particular bid I personally have been involved with,” said Tennant. “We thank all of those people within Meet Minneapolis and all of our partner organizations in the corporate community and hospitality industry.”