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June 25, 2017

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Super Bowl 2018 set to 'boldly' embrace winter showdown in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Now that Minneapolis has the 2018 Super Bowl, organizers are determined to show the world that nobody does winter better than Minnesota.

Touting the theme "Built for the Bold," organizers persuaded NFL team owners on Tuesday to choose Minneapolis, largely on the appeal of the futuristic US$1 billion stadium rising from the site of the former Metrodome, which hosted the Super Bowl in 1992. But the civic leaders turned Minnesota's legendary winters into a selling point, too.

"We didn't shy away from it. We embraced it," Vikings president and owner Mark Wilf said.

Details are still taking shape, but plans call for turning downtown's Nicollet Mall pedestrian area into a nearly mile-long Super Bowl Boulevard to showcase outdoor activities. There will also be links with the St. Paul Winter Carnival, which is usually held in late January.

"It's a chance for us to demonstrate how we celebrate winter," said Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis, the city's convention and visitors bureau. "It's a community that never slows down, that enjoys the outdoors four seasons. And we're in a position to share what we already know with the rest of the world."

Minnesota's winters are indeed bitter — and last winter was the coldest in 35 years. But that doesn't stop residents from delighting in skiing, skating, snowmobiling and hockey. The St. Paul Winter Carnival has embraced the season for more than a century, featuring ice and snow sculpting, community sledding and parades. An extreme ice skating course has been a big hit in the capital city for the past two winters.

In keeping with the winter theme, Minneapolis' video pitch included Lindsey Vonn, the World Cup skiing champion who grew up suburban Burnsville.

Rewarding Minnesota for building the stadium was a major reason the NFL broke with its tradition of opting for warmer settings. Only five Super Bowls have been played in cold-weather cities, including this year's in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Detroit has hosted it twice. Indianapolis hosted it in 2012.

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