A 17-degree mean temperature plus $498 million in corporate welfare equals a Super Bowl.
The NFL’s owners voted today to award Super Bowl 52 to Minneapolis. The vote comes as a payback to Minnesota for pouring at least $498 million in city and state funds into a new stadium for the Vikings.
The Twin Cities’ bid beat out others by Indianapolis and New Orleans, which had gone ten for ten in past attempts to host the Super Bowl. The 2018 Super Bowl will be the second in Minneapolis, which suffers through sub-freezing average highs on February 4–the date of the game–and average lows of nine degrees. In 1992, the since deflated and defunct Metrodome played host to the Redskins and Bills in the big game.
The site of Super Bowl 52 has neither a name nor a seat in place. The Vikings hope to play games at the venue in 2016. It promises a translucent roof, multiple massive HD screens, and 72,000 seats for the Super Bowl. Budgeted at just under $1 billion, the stadium derives most of its construction costs from government sources.
The Super Bowl gives Minnesota politicians supporting corporate welfare cover for effectively giving a $10 billion outfit (the NFL) a half-billion dollars toward a new stadium. It gives fans hoping to spend Super Bowl weekend in a pleasing climate reason to stay home. Who vacations in Minneapolis in February?
The 2018 Minneapolis game follows Super Bowls in Glendale, Arizona, Santa Clara, California, and Houston Texas in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Following years of awarding the Super Bowl to warm-weather cities almost reflexively, the NFL has rethought the strategy in the wake of the success of the New York-New Jersey event this past February and in hopes of using the massive money-generating event as bait to lure recalcitrant NFL host cities to subsidize stadium construction.
The owners also voted to table playoff expansion. Commissioner Goodell, who has pushed for more playoff berths as part of his plan to reach $25 billion in NFL revenues by the next decade, sought to revamp the current wildcard weekend from two to six games with the top-seeded teams in each conference receiving a bye. “We are looking at the idea of could we expand that to fourteen,” Goodell said at his state of the NFL address in Manhattan prior to the Super Bowl. “That’s something that attracts us.” The plan, on hold for now, appears as a fait accompli for the future.
Like a Minneapolis Super Bowl, an expanded playoffs makes dollars so it makes sense to the money-hungry league.