Organizers of Minnesota's bid for the 2018 Super Bowl said Wednesday that local companies have already stepped up to cover most of the costs.
Richard Davis, co-chair of the bid committee and chief executive of U.S. Bancorp, told reporters that just within the first seven days of the drive, local companies pledged enough money to cover 75 percent of the estimated $30 million to $40 million needed to defray the costs. They expect to line up the rest within the next few weeks.
Davis and his fellow co-chairs gave reporters few details about the 180-page proposal they submitted to NFL team owners and officials on iPads donated by locally based Best Buy Co. Inc. He said they didn't want to divulge their "secret weapons" to Indianapolis and New Orleans, the other cities competing for the 2018 game.
The three cities will make their presentations to NFL team owners in two weeks and a decision is expected soon after. Minneapolis last hosted the 1992 Super Bowl. Indianapolis hosted it in 2012. New Orleans has hosted it 10 times, most recently in 2013.
New Orleans also is keeping some specifics of its bid confidential, but, if successful, intends to promote the Super Bowl as the kickoff to the city's 300th anniversary celebration. "A good portion of our bid focuses on the year 2018, which will be a major milestone for the city with a number of new capital improvement projects benefiting the Super Bowl," said Sam Joffray, a spokesman for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.
Those projects include upgrades to the state-owned Superdome, additional streetcar lines and new public spaces such as the riverfront Crescent Park, not far from the French Quarter. "New Orleans presented a very flexible bid allowing the NFL a number of choices in terms of how they would like to configure the Super Bowl footprint for official events and fan activities at multiple venues," Joffray said.
Indianapolis bid leaders released details of their plan Wednesday, highlighted by the news that Colts owner Jim Irsay is expected to make the final pitch for his city to fellow owners on May 19 in Atlanta. Irsay has been undergoing treatment since March when he was arrested near his home in an Indianapolis suburb. The arrest report said he had $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his car.
Davis said the Minnesota proposal includes tax rebates that would be a fraction of the extra revenue the state stands to collect if it's chosen to host the game. Mostly, Davis and his fellow co-chairs stuck to broad themes about the benefits to the community and the NFL and the chance to show off — on an international stage — Minnesota in winter and the Vikings' futuristic new indoor stadium now rising from a pit where the old Metrodome once stood. Davis said they'll also highlight how a February 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis would come just a week ahead of the Winter Olympics. The festivities would be coordinated with other events such as the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
"We're going to celebrate winter. And we should, because we do it well — better than anyone. We're going to talk to the owners about how it's about time that the NFL brought America's game around the country, like a caravan, and started taking it out from the southern states and bring it around to the rest of the world. We should be the first," Davis said.
Davis said the $1 billion new stadium will be "the biggest and the best in the NFL" with some of the closest seating to the field. The co-chairs said any Super Bowl bid requires some tax breaks but promised that state and local governments will come out ahead on taxes. Some of the breaks will require legislative approval, they said, while an exemption from state sales taxes for Super Bowl tickets remains on the books from 1992. They said political leaders have provided assurances there won't be a problem.
AP Sports Writers Brett Martel and Michael Marot contributed to this report.