In response to the competitive marketplace of attracting large-scale sports championships and other events to the region, leaders of the Minnesota sports franchises, business community and hospitality industry came together in 2020 to formalize existing partnerships under one regional entity as Minnesota Sports and Events (MNSE) to draw world-class events that will drive economic activity to the region.
The primary goal of Minnesota Sports and Events, a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization, is to maximize impact for the region’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion and execution of world-class events.
Modeled after best practices of sports commissions across the U.S., Minnesota Sports and Events advances the established event procurement efforts in the region by forming an official commission that will orchestrate a coordinated approach, working with community organizations and businesses, to aggressively pursue economic opportunities for the state’s hospitality, tourism and retail industries. When MNSE secures a bid, the organization will then serve as the event’s permanent Local Organizing Committee, providing operations, marketing, fundraising and event support.
“Over the last decade, Minnesota has established a track record as a renowned destination and host for iconic events, and each of those events chose our state because of the hard work of the different groups that came together to seek each bid,” said Dave St. Peter, President and Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Twins, and Executive Board Co-Chair, Minnesota Sports and Events. “Minnesota Sports and Events will streamline the entire bid process for Minnesota, leveraging experience, data and connections so that we can more efficiently and effectively secure economic opportunities for our hospitality and tourism sectors.”
The commission is led by President and Chief Executive Officer Wendy Blackshaw, who brings more than 30 years of marketing and sales experience to the organization. As senior vice president of marketing and sales for Super Bowl LII, Blackshaw’s team generated more than $53 million in private corporate funding. Blackshaw also served as the co-Executive Director for the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four, an MNSE event.
The Minnesota Sports and Events Executive Board includes:
- Dave St. Peter, Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Twins; Co-Chair
- Bonnie Carlson, Chief Executive Officer, Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau; Co-Chair
- Christine Sovereign, Senior Managing Director, Accenture; Secretary
- Lester Bagley, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Minnesota Vikings
- Doug Carnival, Partner, McGrann Shea Carnival
- Ethan Casson, Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx
- Darren Caudill, Senior Vice President of Sales, Merchandising and Marketing, Cub Foods
- Mark Coyle, Director of Athletics, University of Minnesota
- Matt Majka, President, Minnesota Wild
- John Marshall, Director of Community Relations (MN, ND, SD), Xcel Energy
- Terry Mattson, Chief Executive Officer, Visit Saint Paul
- Jill Renslow, Executive Vice President, Business Development / Marketing, Mall of America
- Melvin Tennant, President & Chief Executive Officer, Meet Minneapolis
- Chris Wright, Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota United FC
- Wendy Blackshaw, President & Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Sports and Events
Minnesota Sports and Events has bid on over 30 events since its inception and was part of the procurement of the 2022 NHL Winter Classic, the 2022 MLS All-Star Game, the Big Ten Men's (2024) and Women's (2023, 2024) Basketball Tournaments and the 2026 Special Olympics USA Games. In addition, MNSE served as the Local Organizing Committee, in conjunction with Meet Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota and Target Center, with responsibility for execution and fundraising of the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four
To amplify the celebration of women leaders, both on the field and off, Minnesota Sports and Events created a platform of events and programming to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX in 2022 and highlight the significant impact Minnesota women have made as trailblazers, serving as role models for upcoming generations of girls. Minnesota Sports and Events worked in collaboration with the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sports at the University of Minnesota to choose 11 Title IX honorees and 50 Title IX Honor Roll recipients.
For more information on MNSE, Title IX and upcoming events, visit www.mnsportsandevents.org.