BLOOMINGTON, Minn. –Minnesota is on display for the world this week.
All eyes are on Minneapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium as the "Bold North" prepares to host Super Bowl LII on Sunday.
The Vikings fell just one game short of playing in a Super Bowl in their home stadium, and while disappointed in how the season ended, Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf emphasized confidence in the team's future as well as still being excited to host the Super Bowl.
"We spent a lot of years working hard at getting the Super Bowl here to Minnesota. It's the combination of a lot of hard work by people," Wilf told media members at the Mall of America Wednesday afternoon. "We're excited to be here helping out where we can as the host team. When we look back from when we first purchased the team, from getting a stadium done — U.S. Bank Stadium is the finest sports venue in the world, we feel, certainly the best in the NFL.
"There are great things going on with our football team, and the franchise has come a long way," Wilf added. "Our fans deserve to be rewarded with hosting the premier sporting event in the world. They're already doing a great job, and they'll do a great job for the rest of the week. So while we're disappointed about the season, football has turned the page to the 2018 season. But we're excited to play our part in hosting."
The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee has fully embraced the state's culture and used the winter temperatures and snowy landscape to its advantage.
From ice sculptures and ski competitions on the constructed American Birkebeiner International Bridge, to life-sized snow globes and the Polaris UpsideDowntown, Super Bowl LIVE activations are offering visitors a unique taste of the Bold North.
"There's certainly challenges to the weather, but I think that's a given in these Northern Cities. But the flip side of it is that the fan base, the community, the corporate support here and the appreciation of getting an event like this takes it to another level," Wilf said. "You look at the 10,000 volunteers [we needed], and 30-plus thousand signed up. You see everyone with bright smiles on their faces in their blue parkas all around town."
With Super Bowl LII just around the corner, Wilf is happy with the execution thus far and looking forward to seeing it all come together at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"This is our first go-around as a supporting team, but I can't think of a better leadership and corporate community than this one," Wilf said. "It's only Wednesday, but you can see it at Super Bowl LIVE and Super Bowl Experience – everyone has a smile on their face.
"I don't care what the temperature is, it's going to be a warm and hospitable environment right through Sunday," Wilf added.
Hosting guests from around the globe for the marquee event offers an opportunity to showcase Minnesota in the midst of winter, and Wilf said the Vikings are looking forward to hosting guests at their future headquarters and training facility, which is set for completion next month.
"After this week, I'm hopeful the world and the country and the NFL will think this is a great community, maybe they'll come here again? That's certainly something that would be on the radar," Wilf said.
"As far as the Minnesota Vikings go, we're building a state-of-the-art facility in Eagan and we're going to grow that out," he added. "We're looking forward to great things, we're going to have a 6,000-seat stadium to host Friday Night Lights, high schools, different events. We're going to have training camp and tens of thousands of people come visit Eagan and have great experiences and memories with their families."