The matchup was viewed as lopsided. In bids to host the 2018 Super Bowl, New Orleans had been the favorite over Minneapolis (with Indianapolis a more distant third).
The Big Easy was a sentimental favorite. New Orleans will celebrate its 300-year anniversary in 2018. NFL owners, who decide Super Bowl venues, had a soft spot for 87-year-old Saints owner Tom Benson, who was perhaps making his last bid.
And there was this: New Orleans has hosted 10 Super Bowls, and had never lost a bid.
So New Orleans officials were stunned when NFL owners voted Tuesday afternoon to give the marquee February event to wintry Minneapolis, where the new $1 billion Vikings stadium has not yet been built. Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan put it this way: "Congratulations to the Wilfs. If you ever feel tempted to question their business acumen, remember this. They just sold frostbite to billionaires."
The news left New Orleans officials shocked, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported. The newspaper collected various reactions:
"This was more of a vote for Minneapolis and a new stadium much more than it was a vote against New Orleans and our presentation." - Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation president and CEO Jay Cicero
"The stadiums, the new stadiums, are obviously a big factor and drive the influence of owners from their perspective." - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
"It's the first time we've been up directly against a new stadium development. In this case, we were in competition with a half a billion dollars of public investment and half a billion dollars of private. And that was a tough thing to overcome. In this case, the sheer value of our destination couldn't quite overcome the monetary part." - New Orleans presenter Steve Perry, the president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau
"Having never lost a Super Bowl bid, this is uncharted territory for us. It's very disappointing, particularly given the popularity of New Orleans as a destination and a major sports event host city." - Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne
The comments section under the Times Picayune story make for interesting reading – and more pointed opinions. A sampling:
"Minneapolis? Really? Habitrail central in the winter time! Sure, the airport has more direct flights, but what are you going to do in MSP after that direct flight lands during winter? I've lived there. You either have cloudy days in the 20s or clear days in the teens."
"The Super Bowl is about the game, not a city. Using the 300th Anniversary of New Orleans as a bargaining chip, our self-aggrandizement, was our downfall!"
"No doubt the decision was based on how much tax money the citizens of Minneapolis had to dish out to support the 'non profit' NFL."
"This is what happens when you can't keep the lights on at the big game. Or on uptown streets. Or downtown streets. Or any streets, really."
"This had absolutely nothing to do with the qualifications. It had nothing to do with lights or power issues. This was not an intentional insult to New Orleans. It had everything to do with the NFL owners keeping pressure on local governments to keep the cash flowing in to build stadiums that can make the owners more money."
A theme emerged in other reactions: The decision was about money.
"Build a stadium and the Super Bowl will come. That’s the reality of today’s NFL, where one of the top priorities is getting a publicly funded, luxury-box-filled football palace in each city," Boston Globe sports reporter Ben Volin wrote.
More general reaction from the Twittersphere: