Ice Palace idea will need corporations to pony up

Architect John Culligan describes plans for a record-breaking ice palace at the Capitol during next year’s Super Bowl. Brian Bakst | MPR News file

Fifteen million dollars is the price of fixing St. Paul’s self-esteem problem.

That’s the amount it will take to build an ice palace on the grounds of the Minnesota Capitol, an attempt to get some attention that’s lavished on Minneapolis during next winter’s Super Bowl.

No taxpayer money will be involved — the Legislature saw to that — but this is a good example of the unseen costs when an area is awarded the Super Bowl beyond the secret perks that the NFL demands of its host cities.

But there’s a little secrecy around this project, too, the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Bob Shaw reports today. Last night, the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Winter Carnival, got a look at the plans. Attendees at the meeting weren’t allowed to take the plans with them.

But it’ll be big and glitzy and really hard to pay for, Shaw writes.

Those private donations are going to be harder than ever to raise, [Ice Palace Co-Chair David] Crary said.

Corporations were generous when the 2004 ice palace was built across from the Xcel Energy Center, he said. But since the Great Recession, they have tightened their belts.

That ice palace was built almost entirely with volunteer labor, he said. But the recession wiped out many construction-industry jobs — exactly the kind of volunteer that the ice palace depended on, Crary said.

“The world has changed in the past 14 years,” Crary said.

The ice palace is good for one, maybe two quick cutaways from the game, just enough for people around the country to say, “look at the ice palace they built in Minneapolis!”

Related: Cool castles: Ice palaces of the Winter Carnival (MPR News)