Super Bowl Bid Bust: Why Are We Destroying The Yard With The Pole Building?

Minneapolis_The_Yard_winterYou may have seen the artist renderings.  The drawings lay out a vision for The Yard, the planned four-acre urban park adjacent to the mammoth new Vikings Stadium.  In the winter versions, the park is shown populated by happy, hearty Minnesota families  skating, admiring ice sculptures, making snow angels and generally laughing in the face of Old Man Winter.

Minneapolis_skating_outdoorsWhen I look at that rendering, I can clearly hear the soundtrack:

“When it snows,
ain’t it thrilling?  
Though your nose
gets a chilling. 
We’ll frolic and play
the Eskimo way. 
Walking in a winter wonderland.”

That, my friends, is us.  Minneapolis has the best park system in the nation, because Minneapolitans loves them some outdoor activities, in all seasons.  That’s why this little outdoor space has emerged as one of the more intriguing, unifying and endearing elements of the Minneapolis stadium area vision.   It is a quintessential Minnesota kind of space being built on Minnesota’s most visible stage.

But the corporate types dreaming up the Super Bowl bid don’t see it that way.  They  promised the NFL muckety-mucks that they would replace The Yard with, well, The Pole Barn.

Minneapolis_super_bowl_-_Google_SearchWell, technically, I guess it’s going to be a tent, but in the artist’s renderings, the ginormous grad party tent looks more like a poultry pole barn to me.  To be fair, it does have a very snazzy Super Bowl LII logo on the roof, making it one of the more swank pole barns I’ve ever seen.

I understand what the Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and his merry band of corporate boosters are shooting for with this idea.  They wanted to reassure delicate NFL billionaire owners who have heard nasty rumors about Minnesota weather that we are in possession of heat, and are prepared to pipe it in wherever the partying swells desire it.

But making The Yard into the The Pole Building is going too far.  We don’t want the Goodyear blimp’s panoramic shots of  Super Bowl LII to portray a generic Super Bowl scene.   We want those  shots to portray a uniquely Minnesota Super Bowl scene.  We want to show the world happy, hearty Minnesotans laughing in the face of Old Man Winter.

After all, we are who we are, and we should be proud of who we are.  We want to show the world that Minnesotans don’t just survive winter weather; we find ways to have fun in winter weather.  Showing everyone skulking into an ugly heated tent paints quite the opposite picture.

To be clear, I’m squarely in favor of heat in February.  By all means, heat the airport, taxis, buses, trains, transit stations, skyways, hotels, convention center, shopping centers, restaurants, bars, strip joints, spas, water parks, indoor skating rinks, theaters, museum and, of course, stadium.  Heck, I’d even be okay cranking it up a few extra degrees for those couple of weeks.

But don’t, repeat don’t heat, sterilize and corporatize the outdoor space that we are building to frolick and play the Eskimo way on the national stage.  Super Bowl week or not, let’s let Minneapolis be Minneapolis.


About Joe Loveland

Joe Loveland operates Loveland Communications (, a sole proprietorship that provides marketing, public relations, and public affairs counsel and services. He previously held communications-related positions with U.S. Senator Tom Daschle, the Minnesota Citizens League, Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III, Allina Hospitals and Clinics, the Minnesota Department of Health, and Weber Shandwick public relations. He blogs at, and also has blogged at

14 thoughts on “Super Bowl Bid Bust: Why Are We Destroying The Yard With The Pole Building?

  1. Petrr

    This seems like an awful lot of words and assumptions about a pitch drawing that itself contains no relevant specifics.

  2. Joe Loveland

    Sorry. I assumed that when the Wilfs and local CEOs spent a ton of time and money to develop a detailed proposal that was endorsed by the NFL that they might be kinda serious about what they were proposing.

    Look, I know it won’t look exactly like the rendering. But I don’t think the bid team is kidding about general concept of putting a giant tent on top of The Yard.

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

      I’m with you Joe. One of the many reasons why the Green Bay Packers are vastly superior to our hometown schmucks is that they play outside and tailgate outside like proper winter denziens. Meanwhile, here in the TC we’ve invented the indoor shopping mall and “mastered” the art of the skyway system.

        1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

          The Packer’s don’t have to pay through the nose to get a super bowl, because they actually play in them.

  3. Eric SaathoffEric S

    According to Joe Soucheray, this feature of Minnesotans is what St. Paul’s going to provide with the Winter Carnival.
    That and a permanent ice palace made of GLASS… I really don’t get it.

  4. David

    when’s the last time Green Bay hosted a super bowl? the private jet flying elite coming to any super bowl – in this case Mpls – are NOT accustomed to MN’s cold winter weather. Using the yard to a mega tented S-Bowl village makes sense. The rebuilt Nicollet Mile will be the winter carnival. as much as i lve in St Paul, good luck w/ that. Mps, the Twin Cities is at the edge of the USA geographically and as a mid-sized metro culturally too in some respects, certainly an outlier in weather. to do a national event, we can’t dismiss that accommodation. Rest assured Miami and NOLA both 10+ times for Super Bowl take little prep to do it — they’re both tourists towns always open for that biz.

    1. Joe Loveland

      Winter play on Nicollet Mall and in St. Paul is fine, but those scenes won’t be in the ubiquitous blimp shots of the stadium, so will have many fewer eyeballs.

  5. Joe Loveland Post author

    Is the circus tent more corporate friendly than an urban park? Yes. Utilitarian? I suppose.

    Charming and distinctive? No and no.

    If there were no other place to have a party downtown, I’d be more open to the tent. But there are lots of warm options – convention center, stadium suites, restaurants, bars, nearby office buildings, etc.

    When you host these kinds of events, you decide what you want to convey to the worldwide viewers. It’s always interesting to see how cities choose to prioritize.

  6. Rex Anderson

    What a relief! The hysterical headline actually had me worried something terrible was happening to the Yard.

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  8. Ron

    What will they think of us?
    Who cares?
    The record low on the date of the Super Bowl is like -28. Have a big heated tent ready. If you think that feels cold imagine flying up from where normal ppl live. They won’t be equipped mentally or physically.
    Not everything is about showing ppl why we enjoy living in this frozen wasteland.
    Seriously though, it’s too cold in MN and I enjoyed the article.

  9. Joe Loveland Post author

    This past weekend, Star Tribune editorial weighed in on this issue:

    “The public first glimpsed the Yard as depicted in Ryan’s initial renderings: a lush public expanse of grass and trees framing the city skyline. Even in winter, with snow on the evergreens and skaters on a pond, the Yard was to be the “money shot” that defined our city and state to viewers worldwide, as well as a bustling activity zone for fans on game days and for neighbors and downtown workers on the other 355 days of the year.

    But a newer image adds tents of various sizes and exclusive activities for Vikings ticket holders for at least 10 days a year, plus events sponsored by the MSFA on part of the park for as many as 40 additional days. During rare mega-events like the Super Bowl or the Final Four, garish tents could cover nearly the entire park space, largely to accommodate national security requirements.

    The upshot is that, yes, the Yard still aims to be both active and attractive, but unfortunately with fewer trees and fewer permanent amenities (public art, fountains, cafes, etc.) than originally imagined, and with more open space for flexible programming, most of it public but some private.

    While that doesn’t rule out public skating in winter or soccer and outdoor movies in summer, all of the setting-up and tearing-down of tents and platforms will damage grass and other natural features and, more than that, will consume beauty and time that the public had expected to get.”

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