BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) Despite disappointment that their Minnesota
Vikings won’t be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home
stadium, state officials and team owners opened their arms to Super
Bowl fans on Monday as they kicked off a week of events before
Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed it Super Bowl Week in the
state, and Minnesota Host Committee co-chairman Doug Baker promised
fans a week they won’t forget.
Many events include a local flair and outdoor activities that seek
to turn the state’s snow and ice into a strength – what promoters
are calling the ”Bold North.”
”This is Minnesota. It’s not going to be Florida balmy. But it’s
going to be Minnesota cold, and we’re proud of it,” Dayton said.
”We’re proud of our state. And we’re just very much willing to
welcome everybody who wants to come up here.”
Officials say the Super Bowl wouldn’t have come to Minnesota’s
northern climate without U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in 2016.
Dayton and Minnesota lawmakers in 2012 approved a financing package
for the facility, which had taxpayers paying nearly half the cost
of the $1.1 billion stadium.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said Monday the partnership that got the
roofed stadium built ”is a great template for other cities to see
that it’s not just a one-way street.” Wilf said that while locales
in warmer climates are more likely to draw future Super Bowls, this
joint venture between the owners and the city and state resulted in
what he called ”the best stadium in the United States.”
The Vikings fell one win short of landing on the NFL’s biggest
stage after losing the NFC championship game to the Eagles 38-7 .
Instead, the Eagles will be here seeking their first Vince Lombardi
Trophy, trying to deny the Patriots a sixth Super Bowl title.
Neither team has played in U.S. Bank Stadium.
Though he joked about wearing a purple tie ”in defiance,” Dayton
said the state will set aside its disappointment that the Vikings
aren’t in the Super Bowl and will welcome all visitors, even
suggesting: ”Behave yourselves – and dress warmly.”
Perhaps as proof that ”Minnesota Nice” really does exist, more
than 10,000 people have volunteered to direct visitors and help
keep things running smoothly during the week. In addition to
bringing the Super Bowl to Minnesota, the host committee has spent
the last year investing $5 million in grants to improve the health
and wellness of kids around the state.
”I’m often asked what makes Super Bowl 52 unique, and the
conversation often turns to the cold and to the weather. But my
real answer is, it’s the people,” NFL Senior Vice President of
Events Peter O’Reilly said. ”It’s the people and the energy and
the warmth here in the Bold North that is really coming through.”