Sports Travel Magazine: It's Not Just a Game

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Successfully executing a major sporting event like the Super Bowl can bring the host city a number of benefits. Destinations have been able to build new stadiums and infrastructure, renovate downtown areas, give back to their communities and ultimately prove that they can handle the logistics of an event with countless moving parts. Recent host cities such as Minneapolis, Houston and Indianapolis have leveraged the Super Bowl’s success to attract more sports and meetings business and to leave behind legacies in their communities long after the big event is over.

Investments in Infrastructure

Minneapolis hosted the most recent Super Bowl earlier this year at U.S. Bank Stadium. According to an economic-impact report released by the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, more than $370 million in net new spending was generated from the event.

When Meet Minneapolis President and CEO Melvin Tennant looks out the window of his office, he can see what he considers one of Minneapolis’ greatest legacies of hosting the Super Bowl: a renovated Nicollet Mall. Located in downtown, Nicollet is a mile-long stretch of restaurants, retail, bars, art and seating. Discussions to revamp the area had been ongoing for at least five years before the prospect of hosting a Super Bowl came along and pushed the $50 million renovation forward. “To have all of the public- and private-sector leaders realize that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our city and to agree on the funding package for Nicollet was certainly a great win for us,” said Tennant.

Another win for Minneapolis was being able to showcase its event offerings during Super Bowl week. During the lead-up to the game, prospective clients in the convention and sports markets were invited to see firsthand what hosting an event in the city would look like. “Over the course of that week, we brought almost 90 of our prospective customers to town—not necessarily for the game, but for other events during the week to show them our city when it was fully activated,” Tennant said. “It was eye-opening not only for those of us who live and work here, but for those customers who were just absolutely amazed at how a city can really come alive for a major event like the Super Bowl.”

Tennant also cited a number of other infrastructure projects that were completed in time for the big event. According to a report by Meet Minneapolis, 10 hotels opened between April 2015 and January 2018, adding a total of 1,581 rooms to the city’s inventory.

Target Center, home of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, underwent a $150 million transformation that was completed in October 2017. The renovation included a new glass lobby, scoreboard and meeting spaces.

But perhaps what clinched the deal for Minneapolis being awarded Super Bowl LII was U.S. Bank Stadium, which had just begun construction when the bid process began. U.S. Bank Stadium opened in July 2016 to replace the outdated Metrodome, the site of Super Bowl XXVI when Minneapolis last hosted the event in 1992. In addition to being the new home of the Minnesota Vikings, the stadium will host the upcoming X Games in July and the NCAA Final Four in 2019.

Tennant hopes having the stadium will help Minneapolis land other major events not currently on its roster. “I do believe that because of our stadium and our other infrastructure, we should be considered for a future College Football Playoff as well as potentially our own college bowl game at some point in the future,” Tennant said. “Those are both on our radar.”