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How much is Super Bowl LII worth to Minnesota?

Far more than $400 million.

That's the estimated direct economic impact of having the NFL extravaganza here in late January and early February. (The game is Feb. 4, but the extravaganza begins nine days earlier, and the hoopla already is building.)

But that's just the direct dollars and cents. The value of having what many would say is the world's top media event in the Twin Cities next year is incalculable, and the dividends already are being accrued as the marketing cranks up. Not only will the $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium make its true debut as a venue for world-class events, the metro area and all of Minnesota, from the tip of the Arrowhead to corn country, will have a chance to reintroduce itself to the world as a great place to live, work, play and do business.

This is one of the reasons it was easy to get behind $348 million in state money for the stadium — again, putting that in perspective, it's roughly the same amount that will be plowed into Destination Medical Center over 20 years, if all goes according to plan. There was never a question that Minnesota would get its second Super Bowl if the stadium was built, and we're now about to reap one big helping of the benefits of that investment.

Maureen Bausch, the CEO of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, said at the PB Dialogue meeting Monday night in Rochester that it's an incredibly rare opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to the world and showcase all that's best about the state — including winter and "how we embrace it."

Well, some of us embrace it more than others, but if the St. Paul Winter Carnival goes ahead and builds an ice palace this year, that's another reason to embrace the Super Bowl.

In 1992, when Minnesota hosted its one previous Super Bowl (No. XXVI, exactly half of LII), the Twin Cities Super Bowl weekend featured Frank Sinatra and Madonna, and Rochester enjoyed its moment in the spotlight as well, with the late, great Chuck Berry here for an event that was in part at the Mayo Civic Center. The city expected to see about $500,000 in economic impact.

Rochester's population was about 75,000 in 1992. The city is now half again as big, the third-largest city in the state, and it has the state's largest private employer driving the state's largest-ever economic development program. Mayo Civic Center will have the grand opening for its $85 million expansion on Thursday. Rochester is a far more dynamic place than it was when Washington played Buffalo at the HHH Metrodome — a yawner, like most Super Bowl games.

The city may not get a whole lot of hotel and Super Bowl-related business, but it's an opportunity for every business and institution in town, including DMC, to grab some attention, make contacts and build relationships.

As Patrick Seeb, the DMC EDA economic development director, said at the Dialogue, Rochester needs to get fully plugged into the process at the individual volunteer level on up.

"Who will tell the Rochester story as well as we will?" he said.

Though it's eight months away, there's a vast amount of work to be done. Now's the time to make plans, volunteer and get involved. It'll be February before you know it. And is it too early to wish for no 30-below cold on Feb. 4?

This editorial appeared in the May 3 edition of the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minnesota.

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