7 Coolest Events at the Minneapolis Convention Center

We are counting down some of the most exciting events held at the Minneapolis Convention Center over the years.

7. Specialty Coffee Association of America (2008)

Can you imagine 1.6 million square feet filled with the soothing aroma of gourmet coffee? This was just one of the perks of hosting the 2008 Specialty Coffee Association of America for both the staff and 8,000 attendees. This international event included coffee cupping, televised barista competitions, and a brewmaster to oversee it all. The brewmaster would use an adult-size coffee machine and tap into it using our water system. Then, they would use a computer to extract the minerals from the water flow, recalculate the exact mineral match, and put it back into the stream – voila, a perfectly blended coffee.

6. Aveda World Congress (2015)

Think creative, big, and amazing.  Now multiply by 10. The Aveda World Congress 2015 runway event, hosted in our Auditorium, included performers suspended from the ceiling by their hair, onstage haircuts and styles, and fire dancers.

5. Antiques Roadshow Filming (2011)

Antiques Roadshow was one for the books. It used two exhibit halls with one transformed into a television studio fit with cameras and studio sets. The other was used almost entirely for the line of participants. Seeing this transformation and feeling the excitement and anticipation from the 6,000 attendees made for a very fun and
memorable event.

4. NCAA Fan Fest (2019)

Buffalo Wild Wing Blazin’ Challenge, rock climbing walls, jumbo-sized basketball-pong, video games, Game of Thrones’ Iron Throne, giant cherry ball pit, balloon corner, crafts, and endless basketball games. This event definitely did not disappoint. And whether you were a die-hard basketball fan or casual viewer, no one was really quite ready for the shock of Shaquille O’Neal’s hand size.

3. Specialty Graphic Association (2004)

“Honey I Shrunk the Kids” was the unofficial theme for this event among staff. Why? Because this Specialty Graphic Association event had printers that were practically the size of a semi-truck and ink cartridges over five and a half feet tall. You really felt like Wayne Szalinski’s shrink ray hit you the moment you walked in.

2. Homebrew Con & National Homebrew Competition (2017)

Cheers to beers! Three full days of non-stop education, interactions, tastings, and the oh-so-pleasing fragrance of homebrewed crafts do help, but the behind-the-scenes logistics of the Homebrew Con are what really lock this event as one of the top events. Located behind the Exhibit Hall was the event’s “cellar” which was made of several refrigerated trucks used to store all the beverages for this glorious event. Included in the cellar were the over 8,000 beer/mead entries received for the different tasting competitions.

Homebrew Con also had to coordinate multiple deliveries from breweries across Minneapolis and Minnesota for their various evening receptions and activities. And if that wasn’t enough, during the National Homebrew Competition, the room needed to be completely free from smells so that it didn’t interfere with the judges’ perception of the beer aromas. Oh, and did we mention that they partnered with Surly Brewing to brew a special edition beer for the event? It was called Whalezbrah and tasted like pure Minnesotan bliss.

1. Super Bowl LII (2018)

A complete take-over. The 2018 Super Bowl took over the entire Convention Center in a way that had never been seen before. The number of workers it employed from Minnesota and surrounding states was astronomical. The detailed planning and security measures will rarely be seen again which included snipers on the rooftop, specific credentials, and multiple checkpoints. This event takes the crown for No. 1.

The total attendance to the Fan Experience was 107,000 over eight days. Hosted alongside the main event were the Patriots Party with 2,000 attendees and the Tailgate Party with 10,000 – both wonderfully over-the-top complete with a celebrity lineup, unbelievable ambiance, and first-class entertainment. It became particularly exciting during the Patriots Party, where Jennifer Lopez unexpectedly brought former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez on stage to a room of Patriots and Red Sox fans – whoops!

Exhibit Hall A was transformed into an entire football field for fun activities, while the remaining four halls held the entire Fan Experience including the Super Bowl ring display and one hall dedicated solely to the famous Vince Lombardy Trophy. For the first time in the history of the MCC, the Auditorium had a massive decking placed on top of the 3,433 fixed seats to be used as a floor for events. Meeting rooms were turned into souvenir shops and multiple live interviews with recognizable celebrities were broadcast from the building.  The MCC also celebrated a silent ribbon-cutting of the new digital display network which was used intricately during this event for crowd control, shuttle busing, coat check, food outlets, and more. Speaking of coat check, we checked over 12,000 coats during this event!

If there was ever a convention center event that was both memorable and historic, this would be it. Overall, the 2018 Super Bowl challenged the entire team and provided an amazing opportunity to show what they were made of, demonstrating what years of experience and teamwork looks like.