NFL visits to consider Twin Cities Super Bowl bid

Officials from the National Football League were in Minnesota Thursday and Friday to consider the Twin Cities as a potential host for the 2018 Super Bowl.

Six members of the NFL's Super Bowl unit toured the construction site of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium and venues like the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and Union Depot in St. Paul and Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

"We had a great visit. We had, again, our civic and corporate leadership engaged and the NFL is very serious," said Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley, who helped host the NFL representatives. "They sent six people here, basically their whole Super Bowl team was here to help us, to help answer our questions, to really zero in to the bid. We had 48 hours of intensive discussions and presentations and feedback."

Minneapolis would like to host the game, scheduled for about a year and a half after the new Vikings stadium opens in 2016. Indianapolis and New Orleans are the other two finalists.

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm Helgen said the NFL is seeking tax exemptions for the game. The NFL typically seeks income tax exemptions for players coming to the game and an exemption for sales taxes on tickets. The state still has a ticket tax exemption on the books from the last time the Super Bowl game came to Minneapolis in 1992.

Helgen said she is confident Minnesotans will understand the need to offer the league such exemptions to obtain the big game. She said Minnesota risks not getting the game at all without them.

"People keep thinking about it like, 'what taxes are we giving up?' We aren't really giving up any taxes," Helgen said. "You know, the tax on tickets, which is the largest piece of this, if there's no Super Bowl, there's no tax collected, obviously, on those tickets."

The NFL will name a site for the 2018 game at a May meeting in Atlanta.

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