It's one of the largest events in the world and in less than 200 days, the Bold North will be hosting Super Bowl 52. "Everyone I've talked to has been just so excited to be able to put our city on the world stage," says Spencer Cronk, Minneapolis' City Coordinator. "Minneapolis has changed so much since we last hosted. We've grown considerably. Our demographics have changed dramatically."
Today, the scale and scope of the Super Bowl has changed tremendously. Since the city received the bid to host the big event, preparations were underway immediately. "Everything is about the preparation for ensuring that the event itself goes seamlessly from a visitor experience," explains Cronk. "We have been preparing for almost a year and a half with our public safety partners, our transportation partners and also the NFL and the Super Bowl Host Committee to get a sense of what they're planning, what might go into this, what resources might be needed from a city perspective."
Hundreds of people are working behind the scenes to make the high profile event happen, including 28 committees. "Our job is to really engage the community in all the planning, so we're working on everything from transit to transportation plans to all the parties and events that will go on around town during the 10-days of festivities leading up to the game," says Andrea Mokros, the Super Bowl Committee's Vice President of Communications and Events.
Over the course of the ten days leading up to Super Bowl 52, Minnesota will expect up to a million visitors from all over the state and nation. And with terrorism on the rise all over the world, including here in Minnesota, security has been top priority. "With the size and scope of the security operations for the Super Bowl, this is certainly not an operation that we as the Minneapolis Police Department can handle ourselves. In fact, it's beyond what Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington can handle," says the Commander of the Minneapolis Police Department, Scott Gerlicher. He say's the Minneapolis Police Department has been working with other officers from around the state and region to help handle security for the upcoming Super Bowl. "You'll be looking at literally hundreds or thousands of various law enforcement officers and public safety officials, local, state and our federal partners, all whose mission is to keep everybody in our city and in our area protected. And to include things like aggressively investigating human trafficking in both prior to and leading up to the event and during the event period."
With the high caliber of people expected to visit the Twin Cities, Metro-area prosecutors and police anticipate hundreds of girls and women will be sold for sex during one of the biggest sports events of the year though online ads, social media connections and big organized parties. Organizations are working hard to combat trafficking leading up to the Super Bowl. "Whenever there's a large event, whether it's a Super Bowl or any type of large event, the chances of any type of crime may increase just because of the fact that you have more people in the community. However, what research has shown according to the University of Minnesota is that trafficking does not increase to the same level that many people or the public perception thinks it would," says Beth Holger-Ambrose, the Executive Director of The Link, who work with youth and families to overcome the impacts of poverty and social injustice, including victims of sex trafficking.
Nonetheless, The Link will also work with other providers to create increased intervention responses such as more street outreach teams scooping for sexually exploited youth and adults during the Super Bowl. "We're seeing it as a huge opportunity to talk to the public about the issue of sex trafficking. That it's an issue 365 days a year, it's an issue leading up to the Super Bowl and it's going to be an issue after the Super Bowl is gone," says Terry Williams, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. She says during the Super Bowl, victims will have numerous resources available to them. "We will have drop-in centers and will be expanding their hours. We're going to increase the number of beds that we have in the state. We are going to make sure that there are lawyers available so that if people need legal advice,they can get that."
Voice of the Minnesota Vikings
He’s the voice of the Purple and Gold. "It's a fantastic job. A brilliant opportunity. My first play-by-play job at any level." Paul Allen has been broadcasting Viking games since 2002. "I pride myself on being who I am. As a 51-year-old man, really still to see sports through the eyes of a 15-year-old, is who I am."
His fans call him PA and to many, he's one of the most emotional, high energy play-by-play broadcasters today. "Whether it's the radio show, calling races, doing Vikings games, I really feel those situations and I share it with the audience."
The Minnesota Vikings have been to the Super Bowl four times, but never won a championship. And now as the host team of Super Bowl 52, fans who bleed purple are crossing their fingers that this may be their golden year. "The Viking's have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. I'm not going to say it's a very good chance," says Allen. "In the way that the head coach Mike Zimmer likes it, this team is under the radar. Off our 8 and 8 last year, the way things fell apart, we are under the radar. And that's a good place to be. So this is a very good Vikings team. To get this team to the Super Bowl, would be unbelievable."
With the Super Bowl in the horizon, the Vikings will kick-off the season next week against New Orleans and former star running back Adrian Peterson.
10-Days of Celebrations
More than 20 years ago, Minnesota hosted Super Bowl 26. That year celebrations lasted four-days leading up to the big game.
Now with ten-days of celebrations, Super Bowl 52 will be much different. "There will be lots of family-friendly activities. Super Bowl Live, which will be headquartered downtown, Minneapolis will be the free and open to the public festival, it's kind of the entry way to Super Bowl festivities with things like concerts, activation's, food and drinks. The NFL experience will take over the Convention Center, it's about a $35 ticket. It gets you in all day. Family friendly. Tons of activities," says Mokros.
The big game will take center stage in one of Minnesota’s coldest months. But that’s not stopping the Bold North in making Super Bowl 52 one to remember. "What's amazing is that our city and our entire region has embraced this idea of our winter and we are not ashamed about calling ourselves the Bold North. Whether it is our winter activities, things that we could be doing outdoors, really allowing our visitors to experience something that many have never experienced before- build a snowman, go ice skating, get on cross-country skis for the first time- these are things that we want to make sure visitors are taking away from the Twin Cities when they come visit," says Cronk. And for those who just aren’t sure they want to venture outdoors, sky-ways will be open to the public to move around town.
The ten-days of celebrations will kick off on January 26th, ending with the big game on Sunday, February 4, 2018. "We live boldly, we have a bold stadium and we are going to use that to make a lasting impression on our guests," says Mokros.