Minn. shoots for big events for yet-built stadium
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Construction isn't even underway on a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium, but a hard push is on by the team and its landlord to lure a Super Bowl, college football championship game and Final Four basketball tournament.
Minnesota lawmakers were told Thursday that officials are bidding to host three of the most visible events in sports soon after the stadium is built. Construction on the $975 million enclosed stadium will start this fall and it is expected to open by the summer of 2016.
Minneapolis was put recently on the NFL's Super Bowl short list for 2018, along with Indianapolis and New Orleans. The league requires cities to apply for a three-year cycle of games, so 2019 or 2020 are also options. The 2018 site will be chosen next spring.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said special committees will be established soon to fashion the formal bid due to the NFL by April 1. The tourism bureaus for Minneapolis and St. Paul have begun matching up available space with the other activities that make the Super Bowl a multi-day event, he said.
"We worked hard to get the stadium deal done -- we as the state of Minnesota, the team and the business and community leaders -- and we deserve to get a Super Bowl as a reward. That's entirely appropriate," Bagley said after testifying at meeting of the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Sports Facilities.
Minnesota hosted the Super Bowl in 1992, but the NFL has favored venues in warmer climates for the February game.
It's not unheard of for a new stadium to get the big game so soon. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis opened in 2008 and drew the Super Bowl in 2012. Dallas hosted the 2011 Super Bowl within two years of the newest Cowboys stadium opening. This season's finale will be played at the shared New York Jets and Giants stadium that opened in 2010.
Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen is already marketing the yet-built stadium as a destination venue.
"We have had unbelievable interest already in our new building," Kelm-Helgen told state lawmakers. "I think we are going to be successful even before this facility is built in getting some of these events booked. The economic impact of this is hugely significant for the entire state."
A delegation associated with college football's BCS will be in Minneapolis on Sunday during the nationally televised Vikings-Green Bay Packers game as they weigh sites for title games in 2017 and beyond. The delegation will get a presentation on the new stadium during its visit.
Conversations have also begun to get Minnesota in the running for another Final Four. The Metrodome, which will be torn down to make way for the new stadium, was the site of the 1992 and 2001 event, where college basketball crowns a champion.
Meanwhile, final preparations are being made regarding the funding and construction of the stadium. Kelm-Helgen said the Vikings will have secured financing for their $477 million share by early next month and the state will sell bonds toward the $498 million public contribution soon after. Groundbreaking is scheduled for mid-November.
Earlier Thursday, the sports authority resolved a pending legal dispute by agreeing to pay $17.1 million for a nearby parking complex and plaza. That project will supply hundreds of underground parking spots connected to the stadium and will link to a planned two-block park outside the stadium's front door.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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