New Vikings stadium makes bid to host 2020 college football championship

Share story

The new Vikings stadium won't open until next summer, but its booking sheet is getting full: The 2018 Super Bowl. The 2019 NCAA men's basketball Final Four.

Now, the state is looking to bring the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship to Minneapolis. Gov. Mark Dayton said landing the football championship would be "frosting on the cake" for the new stadium.

"It's a tremendous event, and it will get even bigger for the next five years," he said. "This will be something we'll be very proud of. Once again, everybody around the country and part of the world will be looking and seeing that this will be in Minneapolis."

The national championship is relatively new for college football. This year was the first time four Division 1 teams faced off in playoffs and a national championship game, which garnered the largest audience in cable TV history, with 33 million viewers.

University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill said college football fans appreciate that they have gone to a new system instead of picking a champion through a series of bowl games that relied on sportswriters' and computers' rankings.

If Minnesota wins its bid for the game, it will mark the first time the event will not be held in a southern state. Event organizers say they hope landing the game will let the public know that Minnesota thrives, even in the cold winter months.

Michelle Kelm Helgen, chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facility Authority, which oversees the Vikings stadium, said she doesn't know which other cities will attempt to land the game — but she's hopeful Minnesota will be in the running.

"The college football championship people have been very clear that they want to look at some [of] what they call 'nontraditional cities,'" she said. "They have given some pretty strong signals that they are looking to go other places than just the South."

Organizers say they expect to raise between $8 and $12 million to host the event. Kelm-Helgen said the bid package will include a sales tax exemption on tickets and could possibly include other subsidies. The NFL is in line to receive a similar tax break for the Super Bowl.

Those tax breaks have upset several lawmakers, who say the Vikings stadium was built with $500 million of taxpayer money. State Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, said event organizers will keep asking for tax breaks as long as lawmakers are willing to give them away.

"It's just gotten to the point of ridiculousness," he said. "But [that's] also not surprising, if we continue to grant it to everybody who asks."

Petersen said he's also upset that lawmakers were asked to approve the tax breaks for the event only after the organizing committee promised them. He said that it's almost impossible for some lawmakers to say no at that point.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.