Minnesota's bid to host world expo in Bloomington falls short

A mockup of the world expo in Minnesota
A mockup of the proposed 2027 world expo event in Bloomington. Minnesota's bid to host the event fell short in voting on Wednesday.
Courtesy of Minnesota USA Expo 2027

Updated: 2 p.m.

Minnesota’s bid to host a world expo event in Bloomington in 2027 has fallen short.

Voters at a Bureau of International Expositions meeting in Paris on Wednesday awarded the 2027 gathering to Belgrade, Serbia — which proposed an expo focused on sports and music.

The U.S. bid for a so-called “specialized expo” had proposed a global health and wellness-focused gathering in Bloomington, near the Mall of America. It came in third in the initial round of voting on Wednesday, before being eliminated in a third round of balloting.

Belgrade and Malaga, Spain, were the two finalists.

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“While we’re disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to host the world this time, we congratulate Serbia on their successful bid for Expo 2027. We know that they will create a memorable Expo experience,” Bob Clark, co-chairperson of the Minnesota USA World Expo bid committee, said in a news release after the vote. “While Minnesota may not have been chosen as the host, we are incredibly proud of the effort, passion, and commitment that went into our bid.”

Ted Johnson was a senior advisor to the U.S. bid effort and told MPR News that while it was unsuccessful, the state will still benefit. He said it exposed diplomats and business leaders from around the world to Minnesota, its culture and economy.

“During that process, we’re able to not only talk to them about where Minnesota is on a map, but more importantly, what are the values that drive us, who we are as a people — and the business and cultural opportunities,” he said. “(We were) able to brand Minnesota around the world as this health care hub, home to Medical Alley, home to the Mayo Clinic, home to a whole host of great Minnesota companies.”

Minnesota lost a previous expo bid, very similar to its most recent proposal, in 2017. In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s vote, Johnson said it was unclear whether the state will make another bid to host an expo that would be held in 2032.

“It’s really hard to say today when we’re, you know, three to five to six years out from the beginning of the next process, whether or not there’ll be that passion or that interest to pursue,” he said. “I would defer that to the future generation of Twin Cities leaders and what they decide in a couple of years.”

Minnesota lawmakers had set aside $5 million to help local organizers pull off the 2023 expo, had Bloomington been selected as the host city. It would have gone toward planning, staffing and city costs.

The budget measure included contingency language in the event the bid was not successful. Instead, that money will flow to the Minnesota Investment Fund, an account that helps finance business expansions that carry the promise of high-quality jobs.

MPR News reporter Brian Bakst contributed to this report.