Three finalists have been asked by the NFL to submit bids to be the host for Super Bowl LII in February, 2018.
As ESPN reports, the pressure now ratchets up for folks in Indianapolis, Minneapolis and New Orleans, as business and civic leaders put their heads together in an effort to win the rights to the financial bonanza that is football's biggest game.
Speculation will also grow as fans debate which city should host the game. With all due respect to those fans, and the fine citizens of the 'Polis-ses, this is a one-horse race.
Granted, this isn't to say that Minneapolis and Indianapolis have no chance, or that they wouldn't be fine host sites.
It's been a while since the city of Minneapolis hosted their one and only Super Bowl. In fact, it's been more than two decades since the Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-24 in Super Bowl XXVI.
The biggest obstacle to the Twin Cities hosting the game is in the process of being eliminated. By the time that Super Bowl LII rolls around, the Vikings will be playing their games in a brand-new billion-dollar downtown stadium chock full of the bells and whistles that the NFL looks for in a Super Bowl venue.
Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, told Richard Meryhew of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune that hosting the Super Bowl is only the beginning where the new stadium is concerned:
To me, the most exciting part of this is it is just the beginning of what I think are going to be many amazing economic development opportunities that this stadium is going to attract. The impact, I think, is going to be significant.
That may well be, but construction hasn't even started yet, which could hurt their chances this time around.
The biggest problem Minneapolis has is one the city can't do anything about: the weather.
It has a tendency to be a little on the chilly side in Minnesota in February. As Jacquie Walker of WIVB-TV pointed out two years ago during the lead-up to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, fans in Minneapolis back in 1992 had to brave sub-zero weather during Super Bowl week while traveling around the city.
Remember, the Super Bowl isn't just a game. It's an event, a week of parties and gatherings that lead up to a football game. Don't think for a minute that the NFL won't give serious consideration to the fact that fans may become fansicles while navigating the city, especially if Super Bowl XLVIII in New York is a frozen fiasco.
However, a small(ish) Midwestern city has recently shown they can pull off the Super Bowl.
As Super Bowl XLVI approached, questions swirled over the city of Indianapolis. Would the weather be lousy? Could a city with the nickname "Naptown" successfully pull off the most exciting spectacle in American sports?
The answers were "no" and a resounding "YES!"
The week leading up to the New York Giants victory over the New England Patriots was hailed as a rousing success. As Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic wrote (via The Huffington Post), "Incredulity is in the air. Naptown is alive and thriving. The urban Super Bowl is a huge success, where everything is in walking distance, and everyone feels the electricity."
The success of Super Bowl XLVI likely landed Indy a spot as a semi-regular in the "Super Circuit." They will host the game again.
Just not in 2018, because of one huge problem with the city of Indianapolis.
It isn't New Orleans.
There's a reason why New Orleans has hosted 10 Super Bowls, including Super Bowl XLVII this past February.
There isn't a more vibrant, fun, exciting or exotic city in all of America than New Orleans. There also isn't a city with more experience at how to show people a good time.
Yes, last year's game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens was marred by a second-half power failure in the relatively ancient Superdome.
Had that happened anywhere else it would have been a death knell for that city's chances of hosting another game. In the Big Easy? People just shrugged their shoulders and kept partying.
It's certainly no slight to either Indianapolis or Minneapolis, but this isn't even a competition. They have new stadiums. New Orleans has Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.
Minneapolis and Indianapolis are cities. New Orleans is a destination.
The destination that should host Super Bowl LII.