By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When St. Paul hosted the 2008 Republican Convention, 45,000 people came to the Twin Cities. Last summer, the Ryder Cup brought in 250,000 people to Chaska. Earlier this year, 35,000 people visited Minneapolis for the X-Games.

All of those events will be dwarfed by the Super Bowl, when organizers estimate 1 million people will flock to the Twin Cities for the game and the 10 days leading up to it.

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“The Super Bowl is much more than a one day game, it’s now a ten-day festival,” says Andrea Mokros, vice president of communications and events from the Minnesota Super Bowl Committee. “We’re expecting more than 1 million guests over 10 days.”

Mokros expects most of those 1 million visitors to be regional – anywhere from White Bear Lake to Ely to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

In the 10 days leading up to the actual game, Nicollet Mall will be transformed. It will host blocks of free activities ranging from winter sports to nightly concerts. The Minneapolis Convention Center will be the home of a $35 NFL fan festival dubbed “Disneyworld for football fans.” There will also be events and activities at the Mall of America, including Radio Row.

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“There’s also a number of unofficial events,” Mokros says. “We expect more than 100 venues around the Twin Cities to be rented for everything from private parties to different showcases.”

The Host Committee estimates that 125,000 of that 1 million number will come just for the game and networking over the long weekend. Several of the major sponsors will host parties where big clients will come to town.

After the 2017 Super Bowl, Houston estimated 1.3 million people attended its 10-day festival. The 2012 host, Indianapolis estimated 1.1 million.

Last summer, the Minnesota State Fair had almost 2 million visitors over its 12-day run.

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“We can handle this in this market,” Mokros says.

Heather Brown