Despite disappointment that their Minnesota Vikings won't be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, state officials and team owners opened their arms to Super Bowl fans on Monday as they kicked off a week of events before Sunday's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed it Super Bowl Week in the state, and Minnesota Host Committee co-chairman Doug Baker promised fans a week they won't forget.
Many events include a local flair and outdoor activities that seek to turn the state's snow and ice into a strength — what promoters are calling the "Bold North."
"This is Minnesota. It's not going to be Florida balmy. But it's going to be Minnesota cold, and we're proud of it," Dayton said. "We're proud of our state. And we're just very much willing to welcome everybody who wants to come up here."
Officials say the Super Bowl wouldn't have come to Minnesota's northern climate without U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in 2016. Dayton and Minnesota lawmakers in 2012 approved a financing package for the facility, which had taxpayers paying nearly half the cost of the $1.1 billion stadium.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said Monday the partnership that got the roofed stadium built "is a great template for other cities to see that it's not just a one-way street." Wilf said that while locales in warmer climates are more likely to draw future Super Bowls, this joint venture between the owners and the city and state resulted in what he called "the best stadium in the United States."
The Vikings fell one win short of landing on the NFL's biggest stage after losing the NFC championship game to the Eagles 38-7 . Instead, the Eagles will be here seeking their first Vince Lombardi Trophy, trying to deny the Patriots a sixth Super Bowl title.
Neither team has played in U.S. Bank Stadium.
Though he joked about wearing a purple tie "in defiance," Dayton said the state will set aside its disappointment that the Vikings aren't in the Super Bowl and will welcome all visitors, even suggesting: "Behave yourselves — and dress warmly."
Perhaps as proof that "Minnesota Nice" really does exist, more than 10,000 people have volunteered to direct visitors and help keep things running smoothly during the week. In addition to bringing the Super Bowl to Minnesota, the host committee has spent the last year investing $5 million in grants to improve the health and wellness of kids around the state.
"I'm often asked what makes Super Bowl 52 unique, and the conversation often turns to the cold and to the weather. But my real answer is, it's the people," NFL Senior Vice President of Events Peter O'Reilly said. "It's the people and the energy and the warmth here in the Bold North that is really coming through."