Minnesota readies to take the ball for Super Bowl 2018

Published 10:44 am Monday, January 9, 2017

By Tim Nelson

With the NFL post-season in full swing, Twin Cities officials are taking notes and making plans for what they hope will be a safe, giant party next year at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Minneapolis host committee is heading down to Houston for 10 days to check out the site of this year’s Super Bowl, hoping to find a way to make Minnesota stand out next year by embracing snowmobiling, ice fishing and other winter fun.

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The Twin Cities metro area has already set aside more than 19,000 hotel rooms for people coming to the game. This winter, organizers are rounding up restaurant and event space.

“For most of our restaurants, from after holiday party season until it starts to warm up, those aren’t our busiest times of the year, so it’s ideal to have more business in late January, early February,” said Dan McElroy is the CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, the state’s restaurant and lodging trade group.

There will be problems, of course. The state’s lodging association is already putting together a training program to help hotel staff spot, and hopefully thwart, prostitution and human trafficking associated with the Super Bowl.

Minneapolis police are also sending a handful of officers to Houston, just as they did to San Francisco last year, to watch security preparations for last year’s Super Bowl.

Incidents like the truck attacks in France and Germany last year and the Orlando night club shooting have vastly widened the scope of potential threats, said Minneapolis police commander Scott Gerlich, who’s leading the Super Bowl security effort.

Next year’s event will be nothing like the last Super Bowl Minnesota hosted at the Metrodome in 1992 or even the Republican National Convention in 2008, he noted.

“Security was primarily focused on those hard targets, things like stadiums, convention centers,” he said. “We also have to consider and have measures in place for things like soft targets. Places where large amounts of people and vehicles and crowds will be gathering and take that into consideration more so than ever before.”