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Minneapolis Super Bowl May Seek More Tax Breaks

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton and other officials said Wednesday that they’ll probably ask the Legislature for more tax breaks to sweeten the 2018 Super Bowl for fans now that the NFL has awarded the big game to Minneapolis.

Dayton and members of the city’s bid committee held a news conference Wednesday to celebrate the affirmation a day after the NFL chose Minneapolis largely because of the $1 billion stadium being built where the Metrodome used to stand. He said the state has not promised any public money apart from a sales tax exemption for Super Bowl tickets that remains on the books from when Minnesota hosted it in 1992.

“There’s no other commitment, explicit or implicit, and that’s where it stands” Dayton said.

But Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, said the organizers will sit down with NFL officials to discuss their needs. They’ll likely then ask the Legislature next year for sales tax exemptions for tickets to some of the other festivities such as the NFL Experience exhibition, she said, and ask private donors to cover the rest.

The NFL requires hosts to exempt Super Bowl players from state income taxes, but Kelm-Helgen said the governor and legislative leaders “weren’t comfortable” with supporting that. So the local corporate community will foot that bill, she said. There will be no exemption from lodging taxes for out-of-town fans, she said, but there may be discussion of an exemption for NFL staffers.

Dayton and Kelm-Helgen said they didn’t know how much revenue the state might forego because of any new tax breaks because they don’t know what they’ll be. They said the current ticket tax exemption is worth about $9 million.

The organizers promised a net benefit to taxpayers. Richard Davis, chairman and CEO of U.S. Bancorp, said total costs are estimated at $30 million to $40 million, but local companies pledged $30 million in the first week of the drive alone. And they have yet to hit up about half of the companies on their list, he said.

Many details about what the bid committee offered the NFL remain secret. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority turned down a request from The Associated Press for a copy of the 180-page proposal. The agency said in a statement that the data it holds related to the bid is considered private data under the state’s open records law and won’t become public until the game is played. The statement cited sections of the law that pertain to trade secrets.

One area that requires a major government commitment is security, even if donors cover the costs. The needs may be comparable to Major League Baseball’s All-Star game at Target Field in July or the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in 2008.

Special Agent Kyle Loven, spokesman for the Minneapolis FBI office, told the AP the bureau hasn’t had any formal discussions yet, but will soon, and added that the FBI has a special events management unit based in Washington that’s “highly involved in these types of events.”

Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said in an interview the department is not worried about its ability “to meet the obligations that are paramount to hosing an event like this.”

Officials with the St. Paul Winter Carnival told the bid committee they’d consider building an ice palace that could do double-duty as a Super Bowl attraction, said Rosanne Bump, president and CEO of the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation. The 2018 Winter Carnival is currently scheduled to end on Super Bowl Sunday. But ice palaces require major commitments of funding, volunteers and a lot of logistical work, she told the AP. The last time the Winter Carnival built an ice palace was 2004 when St. Paul hosted the NHL All-Star game.

Ice palaces have been huge visitor draws. And a Super Bowl ice palace would be a natural backdrop for TV live shots. The organizers said they used it as a selling point with the NFL and spoke as if it’s already a done deal.

“You can imagine the visuals with that castle,” bid committee co-chair Marilyn Carlson Nelson, former CEO and chair of Carlson Companies, told reporters. “No one else does anything like that.”

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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