Minnesota is two years from taking center stage and hosting Super Bowl LII inside U.S. Bank Stadium, as well as festivities throughout the region.
As crews have continued this week on the remaining 10 percent of construction work on the state-of-the-art venue (scheduled for completion in July), Minnesota officials have visited California this week to work on building a great experience for fans in February 2018.
Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf and Super Bowl LII Host Committee CEO Maureen Bausch are among the officials in the San Francisco Bay Area this week to observe how that area's plans have come to fruition for Super Bowl 50.
Wilf, who is an Honorary Co-Chair of the Host Committee, and Bausch spoke with members of the media on Friday.
"In six months, the whole world is going to get to see what we think is going to be the finest venue in the NFL," Wilf said.
The game is just one aspect of a week of festivities that are designed to bring fans up close and personal to the sport at its pinnacle moment.
"I think it's great that they're opening it up to the fans as much as they can, the Media Center, Media Day," Wilf said. "Fans just can't get enough of this stuff, and the more opportunities the NFL has with the NFL Experience or different events to expose fans to this, I think, is great. It grows the game and grows people's connection to the sport."
Bausch said the San Francisco area has done a "remarkable job" of hosting.
"I think they've elevated the bar on the Super Bowl Host Committee events," Bausch said. "We have a focus on health and wellness because of our partners in Minnesota, and they've done a great job with health and wellness here also, so we're learning a lot."
Part of the festivities includes creation of a "Super Bowl City" with interactive displays.
Bausch was asked about possible locations for the Super Bowl City in February 2018 and said Nicollet Mall or "a little bit of Loring Park" are options.
"We'd love to show people how to live in the winter, you know, snowmobiles and skiing and those kinds of activities, so parks work well, but we also want to do something pretty dramatic, so doing something on Nicollet Mall would be really cool," Bausch said. "Nicollet Mall has portals that people can go into, too, to get warm."
Bausch said officials will hone in this year on selecting venues and planning events. Goals will be minimizing disruption but maximizing participation in the first Super Bowl hosted by the area since 1992.
"That's part of planning, where do you put the venues and how do you plan the traffic? We want people to come down, we want them to be part of it," Bausch said. "This is the first time in 26 years the Super Bowl has come to Minnesota. We don't want Minnesotans to stay away. This is for them and for Iowa and North Dakota and South Dakota, and everywhere there's a Vikings fan, Canada."
View images relating to Minnesota hosting Super Bowl LII in 2018.
Bausch said activation will begin in February 2017, following Super Bowl LI in Houston.
"We're Super Bowl LII, so we're celebrating for 52 weeks, starting the day after Houston," Bausch said.
While there's excitement about bringing the Super Bowl to Minnesota, Wilf said Vikings Ownership remains committed to its initial goal of bringing championships to Vikings fans beyond the 2015 NFC North title.
The Wilf family will be entering its 12th season of ownership of the team, and Wilf said he believes "long-term stability" is being established on the field with Head Coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman.
"We think with Coach Zimmer, Rick Spielman and the young, hard-nosed, hard-working players we have, that we're building the right way," Wilf said. "I know we're going to be a better football team next year because a lot of young guys that made a lot of steps this year will be a good young core of players for next year."