Gimme a break: NFL says cold OK, taxes not, in MN Super Bowl bid


The NFL isn't worried about low temperatures, if Minnesota were to host an upcoming Super Bowl.

“We’re not really afraid of the cold, to be honest,” League Senior Vice President Frank Supovitz told reports, according to the Star Tribune.

What they do seem concerned about is low taxes.

Supovitz was part of a six-person NFL scout team sent to Minneapolis for a 48-hour Super Bowl evaluation, the paper says: Assessing venues and transportation options, and advising civic leaders on their best possible pitch for the big game in 2018.

"Our job is really to come here and not only discover what they'd like to propose, but also to give them an opportunity for them to ask us some questions ..." Supovitz said, the Business Journal reports. "We're here as guides and coaches, as we are with the other two cities, so they can put their best foot forward."

Those other two cities vying for the 2018 Super Bowl: Indianapolis and New Orleans.

But there is a catch to all this. The NFL wants tax exemptions, USA Today reports, on player salaries, game tickets, and Super Bowl-related events.

"It's an incredibly competitive environment," Supovitz said, according to USA Today. "And all of those types of configurations figure into what the bottom line of a Super Bowl might be and whether it is financially competitive."

Governor Mark Dayton and state leaders met privately about potential breaks on Wednesday.

The Pioneer Press reports one lawmaker is already playing aggressive press coverage on the matter. State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, introduced a bill blocking Super Bowl tax breaks. The bill says the publicly-financed new stadium is "the maximum amount of state assistance that is appropriate for state taxpayers" when it comes to competing for a Super Bowl. Long story short: Garofalo says Minnesotans have promised to give the NFL enough money.

But there is an argument to be made.

According to KARE 11, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Michel Kelm-Helgen said Indianapolis brought in $40 million just in tax revenue from hosting the Super Bowl in 2012 – and that's after those tax breaks are accounted for.

Added Melvin Tennant, the Meet Minneapolis president and CEO: "When we have an opportunity to fill a gap like that the hospitality community does benefit from that significantly."

Garofalo's bill has been introduced to the Government Operations Committee, and so far that's it. There is no equivalent Senate proposal.

Kelm-Helgen told the Pioneer Press last month the NFL needs assurance that Minnesota would indeed allow those tax breaks if the state is picked to host. The deadline to turn in the 190-page proposal – with or without offered tax breaks – is April 1.

According to the Vikings, the NFL representatives visited Minneapolis and St. Paul hotels, potential team practice facility sites, and possible spots for Super Bowl hospitality and events. Included in the stops: the Union Depot, Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Depot, the Armory, Orchestra Hall, and more.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and members of the city's recently-appointed steering committee reportedly met with the NFL's scout team.

A quick note regarding the weather. The new stadium would be accessible via skyway (assuaging one cold-weather concern), and the Pioneer Press says fire pits and other heating devices along a revamped Nicollet Mall would keep folks warm for the annual street fair.

New Jersey, which hosted this year's Super Bowl back on Feb. 2, lost $8 million in revenue by giving the NFL a tax exemption on sales tax for tickets, reported. The site also said the NFL insisted it would not be liable for any state, county, city or other local taxes tied to the game. New Jersey also paid for all public safety expenses, such as security and police presence – expected to include hundreds of hours of overtime.

An NFL spokesman told the site tax breaks have been a part of Super Bowl bids since the 1990s. Christopher Santarelli, a spokesman for the New Jersey Treasury Department, called it a "standard condition."

Officials still told the publication it was worth it though, citing the expected increase in business and economic activity, including restaurant and bar sales, and hotel taxes.

By the way, many people were concerned about the weather for this year's game, played outdoors at MetLife Stadium. It ended up being in the 40s and mostly clear.

Just for some context, Minneapolis' average temperature range on Feb. 2, historically, is between 12 and 21 degrees according to WeatherSpark. The high this year on that date was 14, with a low of minus 7, Weather underground says.

A little colder than New Jersey. But the new Vikings stadium will have a roof.

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