Super Bowl LII Is coming. What were once whispers have started to crescendo. The sound, along with plenty of media hype surrounding one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, is sure to build leading up to the February 2018 main event at Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium. But for local businesses and volunteers yearning for a taste of the action, now is the time to get involved.
With the Super Bowl comes a title wave of business opportunities. The NFL will come to town looking for local suppliers via Business Connect, its supplier diversity initiative that partners with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee to leverage networking, educational and other business development opportunities for local businesses to connect with the NFL and its contracting partners. The NFL’s focus is on local, qualified, diverse and underutilized businesses, meaning pri - ority goes to businesses headquartered in Minnesota, in operation for at least three years, and 51 percent-owned and certified as minority-, women-, veteran-, lesbian-, gay-, bisexual- or transgender-owned. Certification is not provided by the NFL, rather one of the following certification bodies: TG/ED (MN State Targeted Group Business Program, MN Department of Administration), CERT (Central Certification Program, City of St. Paul, Minneapolis and Hennepin County), DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program through the Minnesota Unified Certification Program), National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (nglcc.org), VOSB (Veteran Owned Small Business), NCMSDC (North Central Minority Supplier Development Council) and WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council).
Interested businesses can start by applying online at mnsuperbowl.com via the ‘Business Connect’ link, where there’s a portal to collect information about the business. Once registered, the host committee will review applications, contact qualified businesses and add about 300-400 of them to the Business Connect Resource Guide online database, which will be used by the NFL and Super Bowl contractors when selecting local business partners. Businesses must apply by April 1, 2017, and the database should be live by late April.
Business Connect will offer a series of events and workshops once a quarter, starting in April, 2017, to help prepare local businesses for the Super Bowl procurement process, as well as introduce them to the NFL and its contractors.
Business Connect’s deliberate areas of focus are put in place by the NFL to level the playing field for businesses that otherwise wouldn’t get the opportunity to participate and compete in such a large event, says Alex Tittle, vice president, Business Connect and corporate affairs for the host committee. So for small businesses that are worried about not having the proper resources, Tittle says the workshops will help.
“We’re going to take you as you are,” he says. “If there are event planners that have a limit in capacity, let’s partner you. It’s one of the purposes of the partnering workshops, to teach you how to work together. Once we figure out how to work together, we get you all involved, so that one small business can do what one of the larger event coordinators in town can do. So there’s a way to get everybody involved.”
For businesses that don’t fit the specific local diverse small business categories, Tittle says it’s still a good for any locally owned business to apply. “This is for you if you’re a Minnesota business. Because what will happen is if we can’t find businesses locally to do X, Y and Z, the NFL will bring businesses in from across the [state] border,” Tittle explains. “We don’t want that. We want businesses from the state of Minnesota to take advantage of all economic impact areas associated with the Super Bowl.”
There will also be a significant need for local volunteers, likely over 10,000 of them, according to Andrea Mokros, the host committee’s vice president, communications and events. She advises those who are interested in volunteering to go to the website (mnsuperbowl.com) to subscribe to e-newsletters, and then in mid-2017, they should receive an announcement that online registration has begun. There are basic qualifications the host committee will use to select the best applicants. “If you’re doing this because you love Minnesota, you love to promote Minnesota, you’re educated about Minnesota, then you’ll probably make it through,” Mokros says.
The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit that serves as the liaison between the NFL, its partners and the local community.
“We’re the local guides for everyone coming to participate in the Super Bowl,” sums up Mokros. “The NFL is responsible for the game. We play a huge role in everything that goes on outside.”
The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Executive Board chairs—Richard Davis, chairman and CEO, U.S. Bank; Marilyn Carlson Nelson, former chair and CEO, Carlson Companies; and Doug Baker Jr., chairman and CEO, Ecolab—were appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to lead Minnesota’s Super Bowl bid, and once they secured that in November 2014, they named Host Committee CEO Maureen Bausch, who along with Lester Bagley, executive vice president of public affairs and stadium development for the Minnesota Vikings, Michael Langley, CEO of Greater MSP, and Dave Haselman, COO of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, rounds out the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Executive Board. The host committee is a team of approximately 15 (see sidebar), and may grow a little from now until the main event, Mokros says. But the committee works with partners such as the city governments of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington, as well as their local convention and visitors bureaus, and relies on the guidance of an advisory board of 85 local experts with a variety of professional backgrounds.
Formerly executive vice president of business development for Mall of America, Bausch has been largely responsible for leading the vision and organization chart of the committee responsibilities, from the fundraising budget to the business, marketing and communications plans.
“There are over 100 projects in our project management system right now,” Bausch says. “There is just a lot of moving parts. We have 28 committees, each committee is working on a mission-specific goal, whether it’s sustainability, arts promotion, cuisine promotion, so on and so forth.”
he limelight. Prior to joining the host committee, she worked in politics for the past 20 years, most recently as the First Lady Michele Obama’s director of scheduling and advance at the White House. “It was amazing and similar in scale in terms of all the eyes of the world being on you, but totally different in the sense that we were planning in the short-term and not in the long lead like this,” Mokros says, comparing the experiences. “So to have the long lead is both welcome and daunting. As meeting planners can appreciate, when you have a short lead, you make decisions. When you have long lead, you just develop more details and more things to do.”
The host committee can learn from previous Super Bowls to a certain extent, but Mokros notes this local market has its own unique obstacles (the cold climate) and advantages (thriving culinary and arts scenes). “We have different needs and focus,” she says. “I think this is different than other Super Bowls—this is a huge opportunity for us to market Minnesota, so we really put a lot of emphasis on communications and marketing side of things: telling the Bold North story.”
Building Bold North
“I just read an article that said when people think of Minnesota, they think of frozen, fishing and Fargo,” Mokros laughs.
The host committee is striving to change that perception with a new brand it’s aiming to build through the Super Bowl and its surrounding events: Bold North
The brand was inspired by locally famed entrepreneur Eric Dayton’s “North” movement, Bausch says. “[North] seemed to resonate with everyone and our stadium is bold, so we really felt that for the Super Bowl, the Bold North was a good brand position. But once you come out with it, you have to execute at every turn. And that means our meeting planners need to execute Bold North parties. We can’t do things that are expected, we have to surprise and delight in a Bold North way.”
Starting Feb. 6, 2017, the host committee will kick off 52 weeks of charitable giving and celebrating all Minnesota has to offer leading up to Super Bowl LII. Fitting the 52nd Super Bowl, the mostly digital campaign will highlight 52 communities across Minnesota, 52 legendary Minnesotans, 52 bold ideas originated in Minnesota, 52 weeks of charitable giving focused on kids and health through the Legacy Fund, 52 innovative companies and 52 can’t-miss attractions. That campaign will lead up to the 10-day Bold North Festival, which is expected to draw millions of visitors from 130 countries and 5,000 media.
“There are things to do whether you’re 1 or 100 [years old], whether you have a dollar to spend of $10,000,” Bausch says of the festival. “And if we do it right, we will see a wonderful economic impact for this area of about $400 million. It’s like getting ready for the biggest graduation party of your life. Everybody has to be show ready.”
The festival will include the NFL’s Official Events (e.g. NFL Experience, Radio Row, Opening Night, Taste of the NFL—which was started by Minnesota restaurateur Wayne Kostroski back in 1992—NFL Honors, NFL House and the NFL Tailgate Event), Signature Minnesota Events (e.g. Crashed Ice, Winter Carnival, Pond Hockey Tournament) and Super Bowl Host Committee Events (e.g. Super Bowl Live).
“Bold North can mean a lot of different things,” Mokros says. “It’s such a big umbrella. But I think it gives us an opportunity to redefine Minnesota to what we know it to be. I think we [on the host committee] all enjoy football, but at the end of the day we’re all here because we love Minnesota and we want to put Minnesota’s best foot forward.”
And if that best foot lands in the right place, the local meetings and events industry, especially, could be benefitting for many years to come.
“[The Super Bowl] can raise awareness for everything your state or city has, and your meetings and events will continue to grow, if you do it right, for a long time afterwards,” Bausch says. “Indianapolis is the best example of that—they had increased business to the market long after the Super Bowl. They’ve been on a roll since 2012 when they hosted.”
“It’s just incredibly important to get everybody on the same page,” Mokros says. “I think this is going to be an amazing challenge, but also an amazing opportunity for us to shine.”