Dayton, Super Bowl bid planners outline next steps

Executives and state officials of the Super Bowl bid committee gathered in Gov. Mark Dayton’s reception room at the State Capitol Wednesday to celebrate awarding of the 2018 championship game and describe how they wooed NFL team owners to vote for Minnesota.

The game will be played in the downtown Minneapolis stadium under construction now and scheduled to be completed in time for the Vikings’ 2016 season.

Bid committee members envision events taking place across the Twin Cities metro area. Despite the cold of February, many of those events may take place outdoors.

Nicollet Mall, which was recently approved for a $20 million renovation, will be renamed Super Bowl Boulevard for the week. Planners envision horse-drawn sleds, warming houses and fire pits. The Mall of America will host a media party and day for families. And committee members say St. Paul will construct an ice castle during the Winter Carnival for the first time since 2004.

Marilyn Carlson Nelson, former CEO of Carlson Companies, said events at these high-profile locations played a role in the NFL’s final vote.

“When they finally said Minnesota, it was just such an affirmation, of our bid, but mostly of our community,” Nelson said.

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said committee members still need to negotiate with the NFL on who will pay for various aspects of the festivities.

The NFL also doesn’t want players to pay state income taxes, but that exemption provision didn’t earn the support of legislative leaders or the governor. Kelm-Helgen said the income tax exemption will likely be covered by fundraising from the private sector.

Bid committee member Richard Davis, CEO of U.S. Bank, said they’ve raised $30 million from private companies. He said they’d like to raise somewhere between $30 and $40 million in private funds.

State law already includes a sales tax exemption on the Super Bowl tickets, which is worth about $9 million to the NFL, Dayton said. He said political leaders have made no other explicit or implicit commitment to provide more tax breaks to the NFL.

“We have a letter signed by the four caucus leaders and myself during the session that pledged our support for what would become necessary, it wasn’t specific support for anything,” Dayton said.

“If I’m around next year, I’ll be receptive to whatever continuation of this public-private partnership is asked for.”

The DFL governor is running for a second term in the fall.