Some may think that Minneapolis getting the 2018 Super Bowl is a surprise. When I heard the news, I "meh'd". Of course they got the Super Bowl. The NFL has been dangling the Super Bowl carrot for years to entice voters and politician intofunding shiny new palaces for their local NFL teams. If the NFL doesn't come through on that promise sufficiently, future promises will fall on deaf ears.
Choosing Minneapolis as the odds-on favorite really wasn’t that hard when one looks at the history of the game. First of all, despite New Orleans’ claim that Minneapolis is “a relative neophyte in the big-event hosting game,” the Twin Cities are hardly amateurs at hosting big events. Minneapolis hosted the Super Bowl back in 1992. In fact, I ate lunch right next John Madden at Minneapolis’ finest Chinese restaurant, the Village Wok, while in grad school in the city at the time. MLB sent the All-Star Game to Target Field just last July, and the city has hosted the World Series and the NCAA Final Four on multiple occasions. St. Paul hosted the 2004 Republican National Convention, a much bigger organizational and security undertaking than a simple football game. And let’s also just remember that experience isn’t everything. New Orleans, despite hosting more Super Bowls than any other city, couldn’t even manage to keep the lights on during their last attempt at hosting.
More importantly, however, is the fact that the NFL wants to reward cities that build new stadiums, especially those that shower their franchises with lots of taxpayer subsidies. The NFL constantly dangles the carrot of a Super Bowl in front of otherwise reluctant taxpayers in order to receive public handouts. Put in $498 million, like the citizens of Minnesota did, and the NFL will send the Super Bowl and its supposed $498 million in economic impact your way. It’s almost like getting a stadium for free. Of course, the bribe only works if the NFL is actually seen coming through with the big game.
Indeed the NFL has come through. Of the 16 Super Bowls hosted between 2001 and 2016, over half were held at newly constructed stadiums hosting Super Bowls for the first time including games in Tampa, Glendale, AZ, Detroit, Indy, New York/New Jersey, Jacksonville, Santa Clara, CA, Arlington, TX, and Houston. And now add Minneapolis to list.
In game theory we often talk about about credible threats, but promises need to be credible too. If nothing else, the promise of a Super Bowl in exchange for a new stadium is a credible promise..
P.S. Victor suggests going to the Village Wok if you go to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl. I haven't been there, but I do recommend Broder's Cucina Italiana and Pizzeria Lola. Good stuff, Maynard!
Update: Over at Facebook, Paul Miille from the Dallas-Forth Worth area comments:
Hey, it's not so bad having the Super Bowl. Just because there's an entire week when you can't go anywhere in the area of the stadium, or the hotels that will host travelers to the game, restaurants you love will either be unreachable, due to proximity to one or the other above, really good restaurants will simply be too busy and it'll end up costing the city about double what it brings in. I mean why wouldn't anyone want that in their city? We loved it so much, in DFW, that we'd rather have root canal without anesthetic than have another any time soon. Other than that, it was great fun.
Several years go my wife and I were touring wine country. There was a couple from Calgary who were on the same tour and I asked them why they were down in Sonoma County. The husband remarked that they had left town to get away from the insanity that was the Calgary Stampede.