MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Twenty-six years after Minnesota hosted the NFL’s first-ever cold-climate Super Bowl, planning for another one is heating up.

Super Bowl LII will be held in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018.

“When it was called ‘The NFL Experience,’ it started here in 1992,” said Mary Pat Augenthaler, vice president of events for the National Football League.

Augenthaler and other NFL staff are in Minnesota this week, polishing logistics for next year’s game — now just 116 days away.

Planning includes the massive “Super Bowl Experience,” which is being held at the sprawling Minneapolis Convention Center from Jan. 27 through Feb. 3.

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It is a collection of professional football history, shopping, player interactions and much more.

Augenthaler says it’s the perfect venue for young football fans, many of whom leave the venue thinking they attended the actual Super Bowl.

“You can do everything from punting, passing, kicking, catching,” Augenthaler said. “Any skills that our players do on the field, you can do at Super Bowl Experience.”

Cost of the attraction will be $35 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under. Tickets are stamped for a day and time, and will go on sale beginning Dec. 5.

All the fans participating in Super Bowl activities are sure to crowd party venues, concerts and, of course, metro freeways.

For the local host committee, perfecting both security and mass transit plans are key to a successful event.

Mock-up of what the Mpls. Armory will look like during a Super Bowl event (credit: CBS)

“Throughout the 10-day festival, we’re expecting more than a million guests, more than 5,000 members of the media,” said local committee spokesperson Andrea Mokros.

The plaza outside U.S. Bank Stadium will serve mainly as broadcast facilities for actual game-day events.

That is why most public events are being planned for the newly-renovated Nicollet Mall, which will feature the local host committee’s gateway attraction: Super Bowl Live.

“It will be downtown Minneapolis. It will have a number of free concerts that we’re really excited to unveil in the coming weeks,” Mokros said. “It will be indoors and outdoors, but really embracing that bold north theme.”

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The popular Taste of the NFL, an annual fundraiser to benefit food shelves, will fill St. Paul’s RiverCenter.

The Mall of America, as well as many hotels, restaurants and a newly-renovated Minneapolis Armory will host other events.

What won’t happen for guests is the massive Ice Castle, which was so popular during the 1992 Super Bowl.

The committee working on activities for the coinciding Winter Carnival announced on Wednesday that it is being scuttled for a lack of secure funding. It was estimated to cost upwards of $5 million. It was disappointing news to fans like Manuel Alvarez.

“We’ve got all this snow and free ice that’s probably going to come anyway, so [laughs], you can’t build it out of that?” Alvarez said.

Despite the popularity of the last mega-castle in 1992, the high cost of erecting and insuring it bankrupted the St. Paul Winter Carnival Association.

Bill Hudson