Marc Lore, the soon-to-be co-owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has been selected to head up Minnesota's latest bid for a World's Fair.
Lore was named on Thursday as the co-chair of the Minnesota USA Expo 2027 board. He will be joined by Robert Clark, who served as the U.S. Commissioner General of the USA Pavilion at the recently concluded Expo 2020 in Dubai.
In 2018, Minnesota lost a bid to host the World's Fair in 2023. Argentina ultimately won the bid.
However, since that loss, momentum and effort as gained traction since then. The state is trying an aggressive campaign to host the first Specialized Expo in the United States since 1984, when it was hosted in New Orleans.
Currently, the state is up against Argentina, Spain, Thailand and Serbia for the bid in 2027. The bid committee will put together a presentation for the Bureau International Des Expositions (BIE) in June. An official vote will take place in June 2023.
If Minnesota wins the bid, the Specialized Expo will take place on undeveloped land near the Mall of America over three months during the summer of 2027. It would revolve around the theme of "Healthy People, Healthy Planet," which would showcase the latest healthcare in the state and around the world, plus agriculture and sustainability, according to a release.
The board claims the expo would generate a huge economic impact on both Minnesota and the United States.
Lore, the former CEO of Walmart and co-founder of Jet.com, officially became a limited partner with the Timberwolves and Lynx last summer, alongside Alex Rodriguez. The pair will eventually take over ownership from Glen Taylor.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to work with [Robert Clark] and the entire Expo team to help bring a global event of this magnitude to the United States, focused on some of the most pressing issues impacting our lives,” said Lore in a statement.
"As my relationship with Minnesota continues to deepen, so does my desire to support this great state in any way I can.”
Clark was the senior U.S. government representative to the Government of the United Arab Emirates on issues related to the Dubai Expo. He is also the executive chairman of St. Louis-based construction corporation Clayco.
“The experience of leading the U.S. Delegation in Dubai gave me great insight into the importance of these gatherings for U.S. business interests and our diplomatic relationships around the world,” Clark said. “The theme of health and well-being is more important now than ever before, and I’m happy to be part of the effort to bring the Specialized Expo to Minnesota.”
Others elected to the board include James Lawrence of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and members from organizations in New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C.
What is a Specialized Expo Campaign?
A "Specialized" Expo is a scaled-down version of a "World" Expo. An example is the most recent expo held in Dubai in 2020. However, the scaled-down version is just as impactful, as it is a gathering of public and private sector interests from as many as 170 countries.
Minnesota was selected as the official bid of the United States last year. The last Specialized Expo in the United States was held in New Orleans in 1984. The United States hasn't held a World Expo since 1962 in Seattle.
According to the Bureau International Des Expositions, the main idea behind the expos is to help people and nations across the Earth learn by sharing ideas, while also demonstrating innovation and highlighting progress in fields such as technology and architecture. The theme of each expo also changes every five years.
The first World Expo was held in 1851 in London, and the 1889 World Expo in Paris famously saw the unveiling of the Eiffel Tower.
Why hasn't the US hosted one recently?
A report from Architect Magazine lays out many reasons as to why it's been so long since the United States last hosted one of these events. In the early days, American cities would build "imaginative and evocative national pavilions filled with memorable exhibits." One example of this is the Space Needle in Seattle.
However, in the ensuing years, the way American politicians would view World's Fairs changed. Architect Magazine notes that American participation in them had been a propaganda tool in the Cold War, which ended in 1991.
Then, in 1998, a budget-cutting Congress abolished the United States Information Agency, which among other things oversaw American participation in foreign exhibitions, a responsibility that was transferred to the State Department as it is today.
In addition to these changes, the George W. Bush administration made the decision to cut federal funding from World's Fair pavilions, stating that American corporations should ultimately foot the bill. The USA pavilion at the Shanghai 2010 Expo, which struggled to get corporate sponsors, received mixed reviews, with some likening it to a car dealership.
Time also notes that World's Fairs themselves have undergone a change in theme. What was at one point about "trumpeting triumphs" of human ingenuity has become smaller in scope, focusing on solving problems, particularly as it pertains to the environment.