Minnesota has won its bid to host a Super Bowl, just 19 months after its new $1 billion stadium is scheduled to open in Minneapolis. The National Football League owners meeting in Atlanta voted on a host for the 2018 game Tuesday afternoon. The decision came after presentations by three finalists picked in October: Minneapolis, New Orleans and Indianapolis.
The 32 NFL team owners gathered to make the final choice had to vote four times to reach a decision because there was no clear choice in the first round; the second vote saw Indianapolis knocked out of contention; the third round of balloting didn't yield a 75 percent majority either. On the final ballot, it was down to Minneapolis and 10-time Super Bowl host New Orleans. When Commissioner Roger Goodell made the final announcement the Minneapolis contingent erupted in joy.
Later, Goodell said the Vikings new billion-dollar stadium -- still under construction -- was a key factor in the owners' decision.
"The effort that they had to bring that stadium to completion, the plans that they have for [it] and the commitment the community has demonstrated was a positive influence on several owners that I talked to," he said.
In their pitch, Vikings officials told the other NFL owners that Minnesota taxpayers had stepped up with nearly $500 million to help build the stadium.
"The public private partnership is unique to this city and the state, and its been a great partnership to date, and that's something hopefully is an important point to recognize going forward," Vikings owner Mark Wilf told the NFL Network. "We thought that was a big important thing."
The game has been the subject of speculation in Minnesota for the last three years. Supporters of the taxpayer spending that went into replacing the Metrodome offered the game as a one of the reasons to subsidize the Vikings new home.
Gov. Mark Dayton suggested earlier this year that hosting the game could have as much as a $500 million impact on the state, although experts who have studied the Super Bowl put the number between $30 million and $120 million for a host site.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, who heads the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, says winning the bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl is proof that using $498 million in taxpayer money to help build the stadium was the right thing to do.
"That's the reason the governor and those legislators invested public money in this facility to bring all these big events and the economic impact that comes with it," she said.
The game has only been held in a northern U.S. city five times: in Detroit in 1986 and and 2006, in Minneapolis in 1992, in Indianapolis in 2012 and in New Jersey in February. All but one of those games has been in an indoor stadium. New Orleans has hosted the game 10 times, three in the Tulane Stadium and seven in the Superdome.
Minneapolis last hosted the Super Bowl in 1992 -- in the Metrodome. In 2012, the proposal to use state and city money to replace the Metrodome was highly controversial, especially at the Minneapolis City Council. At the time, Councilmember Betsy Hodges said she was philosophically opposed to using public money to fund a stadium for a privately-owned football team. But when asked about her opposition to the stadium at a City Hall news conference yesterday, Hodges, who is now the city's mayor, said that debate is long over.
"I made my statements at the time about what I thought, and once it became clear that this public investment was happening, I have worked my tail off to make sure that we get the most we can out of that public investment. And I'm very excited today to have the Super Bowl coming to Minneapolis."
The city is paying $150 million toward the cost of the stadium's construction. But Hodges says taxpayers will NOT be on the hook for Super Bowl-related costs because of fundraising by the business community.
She also promises the city will be ready for the big game, and is getting a dry run of sorts when Target Field hosts baseball's All-Star game in July.
Minnesota's bid was led by three business leaders: U.S. Bank CEO Richard Davis, Ecolab CEO Doug Baker and former Carlson Companies CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelson. She also helped chair the successful bid for the 1992 Super Bowl.
Here's a comparison of the three stadiums that were vying to host the game:
Stadium: Minnesota Multipurpose Stadium (naming rights pending)
Year opens: 2016
Original cost: $1.001 billion (estimated)
Hosted Super Bowl: N/A (Minneapolis hosted the game in the Metrodome in 1992)
Stadium: Lucas Oil Field
Year opened: 2008
Original cost: $720 million
Hosted Super Bowl: 2012
Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Year opened: 1975 (reopened in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina, upgrades completed in 2011)
Original cost: $134 million ($221 million in post-Katrina repairs, another $115 million in upgrades since 2008)
Hosted Super Bowl: 2013, 2002, 1997, 1990, 1986, 1981, 1978
MPR News reporter Matt Sepic contributed to this story.