Reflective of the end-game excitement of this year’s Super Bowl LII was the preparation and execution of the big game’s hosts: Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Bloomington and surrounds. The 10-day fete highlighted some of the region’s most intriguing off-site venues, scenery, breweries, restaurants and more.
“We were able to show how well we could put on a major event,” said Meet Minneapolis CEO Melvin Tennant. “Minneapolis is now under a multibillion-dollar expansion program, much of which has already been completed.”
Downtown shopping and entertainment strip Nicollet Mall, now known as Nicollet, underwent a $50 million transformation, including more trees and outdoor art.
Nicollet was also host to Super Bowl Live!, and can be used as a venue by groups for large events. Restaurants along the mall have spaces for smaller gatherings, while night spots like Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant can also be used by groups.
As part of the city’s expansion program, Target Center, home of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, recently took the wraps off a $150 million transformation and can offer groups space in its theater and private meeting rooms.
Home of this year’s Super Bowl, U.S. Bank Stadium, which also hosted the X Games last year, features a variety of group venues, including the Delta Sky360 Club for up to 600 for receptions.
Also used during the Super Bowl, Orchestra Hall, which opened in 1974 as the home of the Minnesota Orchestra, hosted a concert for sponsors. The venue offers seven indoor and private outdoor spaces ideal for performances and events.
During Super Bowl week, ESPN broadcast from the IDS Center Crystal Court inside the IDS Center, the city’s tallest structure. Groups can use various spaces in the building, which is also iconic as a filming location for the ’70s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which was based in Minneapolis. Fans of the show can find the famed Mary Tyler Moore Statue on Nicollet.
Meet Minneapolis can help organize themed events based on everything from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to another Minneapolis icon, Prince.
One of the latest additions to the group roster is Prince’s Paisley Park, located 20 minutes from downtown. Tours include the studio where Prince recorded his music as well as the stage where he performed live and hosted parties.
Paisley Park can accommodate up to 500 guests for a seated affair and 900 for a standing room party.
“We’re very excited there is so much interest in the legacy of Prince,” Tennant said. “He was part of the fabric of the community. Groups can organize guided tours of sites related to Prince—murals, places he went to school, his childhood home.”
Prince filmed the video for 1999 at the Armory, which reopened in December and held several concerts during the Super Bowl festivities. Completed in 1936, the Armory was operated by the Minnesota National Guard until 1980 and hosted games for the Minnesota Lakers NBA team between 1947 and 1960.
Groups can use its space for up to 8,000 people.
First Avenue & the 7th Entry nightclub, a frequent Prince haunt, was featured in the movie Purple Rain and has live music nearly every night.
Minneapolis flaunts a host of other cultural off-site options, including The Orpheum Theatre in the downtown area, Pantages Theatre and the Walker Art Center, along with its nearby Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Heading outdoors, The Bold North Zip Line was introduced just for the weeks surrounding the Super Bowl to traverse the Mississippi River. Part of the goal was to showcase the river itself.
“We’re also looking for more ways to create engagement on the river,” Tennant said. “So many come and never know the Mississippi is right here.”
Groups can organize kayaking trips on the river among other activities. Along its banks, the Mill City Museum, which traces how Minneapolis became the flour milling capital of the world for 50 years, offers a conference room and courtyard for groups.
Also new on the scene is Finnegans House, which is home to a brewery and taproom, and donates 100 percent of its profits to the community. Its taproom is open to groups, as is its courtyard.
Punch Bowl Social Minneapolis offers a variety of unique options including eight lanes of bowling, ’80s-era arcades, bocce ball, two private karaoke rooms, ping-pong and billiards, while Surly Brewing Co. near the University of Minnesota is known for its craft brews and offers outdoor space.
Cafes even get in the meetings mix, such as The Lynhall in the Uptown neighborhood, which can host up to 200 and also has its own TV studio that is open to groups.
According to Meet Minneapolis, The Hewing Hotel farm-to-table restaurant Tullibee is another group hot spot.
New hotels and renovations include The luMINN Hotel Minneapolis, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member, which debuted last October with meeting space. The Hilton Minneapolis recently underwent a major upgrade as did The Marquette Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton. Graduate Minneapolis, near the University of Minnesota campus, debuted in 2017 with 304 rooms.
Nearby in Bloomington, Mall of America can be easily accessed by light rail and offers unique meeting spaces in addition to its over 520 stores.
One of Mall of America’s main group options is Parkview Meeting + Event Center, with 4,000 square feet of private event space as well as an outdoor balcony that overlooks Nickelodeon Universe.
Another outlet is the Executive Center, a 2,834-square-foot facility with four meeting spaces: Boundary Waters Suite, two adjoining conference rooms (Grand Marais and North Shore) and the Voyager boardroom.
Minneapolis’ Twin Cities neighbor Saint Paul shared the limelight during the Super Bowl festivities.
“During the Super Bowl we were sold out,” said Jane Lewis, vice president of convention sales for Visit Saint Paul. “We held Taste of the NFL at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, and hosted an owners’ dinner for 1,500 in the Union Depot.”
Union Depot, a historic train station that was restored in 2012, can accommodate groups from 25 to 3,000 people.
The city also hosted the Super Bowl Opening Night at the Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. The Center can offer private tours for groups.
The city played host to the Saint Paul Winter Carnival during the Super Bowl, which included an Ice Palace in Rice Park.
Aside from the Super Bowl venues, groups will find a plethora of options in Saint Paul.
“Saint Paul is known for its unique venues and historic feel,” Lewis said.
That combination of fresh and historic led to the bureau’s tagline, Discover Hipstorical Saint Paul.
“It’s hip and history combined,” Lewis said. “That fits Saint Paul.”
On the historical front, the Palace Theatre recently renovated and can be used for small groups, while across the street, the Science Museum of Minnesota offers views of the Mississippi River and has five private meeting spaces for up to 400 people.
Lewis also recommends the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts for receptions. Its concert hall can host groups.
In Lowertown Saint Paul, the A’BULAE event center overlooks the city and CHS Field, home of the indie professional baseball team, the St. Paul Saints. CHS Field lets attendees show off their talents using batting cages and bullpens. Meanwhile, under construction is Allianz Field, a soccer-specific stadium for Major League Soccer team Minnesota United FC, slated to open in 2019.
Treasure Island Center, a practice facility for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, is opening meeting space and will have a brewery and restaurant, according to Lewis.
Other group options include the Landmark Center, a former court house dating to 1902, which can host up to 400 people.
The Padelford Riverboat Company offers its paddle-wheelers for group excursions on the Mississippi River.
On the hotel front, a 127-room Marriott Tribute boutique hotel will take over the Park Square building in Lowertown, with a completion date set for the end of 2019.
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