By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every ending means a new beginning. And from the Nicollet Mall to U.S. Bank Stadium, tourism experts feel the possibilities are endless thanks to the success of Super Bowl LII.

One hundred million people had their eyes fixated on a football game played in Minneapolis Sunday night.

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Potentially hundreds of thousands of visitors were in town to enjoy the festivities.

Tourism experts say that number, although smaller than the TV viewership, could carry more weight.

“I’m just really happy with the way the community performed,” said Melvin Tennant, President and CEO of Meet Minneapolis. Tennant said the organization used the 10 day spectacle surrounding the “big game” as a recruiting tool, inviting event planners from around the world.

“Some of them were faith based groups, some of them were sporting events, some of them were association type conventions, national, local, some international clients were in town,” he said.

The X Games will return this summer. Next year the city will host the NCAA Final Four.

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But Tennant also has his sights on the College Football Playoff, which they previously bid for but lost, and landing a college football bowl game.

“It’s really important for us to make sure that we bring these big events in because it brings people that typically don’t come to our city,” he said.

Explore Minnesota has the same mentality but with a statewide focus.

“This is a place that isn’t just all boarded up in the January, February and March months. This is a state where there’s a lot going on,” said John Edman, Explore Minnesota’s Director.

Visitors embraced that idea with ice fishing as a popular example. And their personal stories from the Super Bowl week, especially when shared online or with friends, could prove to be priceless.

“That is even more effective marketing than anything we can do on our own,” he said. “We’re seeing just an incredible growth in social media and social media engagement.”

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U.S. Bank stadium will also host the NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championships in March 2020.

Jeff Wagner