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Vadnais Heights won't have a Super Bowl ice castle after all

Vadnais Heights Mayor Bob Fletcher announced Monday, April 3, 2017, that the city and several partners are planning to build an ice palace to coincide with the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis. Courtesy photo / Vadnais Heights and Rust Architect

VADNAIS HEIGHTS, Minn. — Vadnais Heights is cancelling plans for a giant ice castle that would have coincided with the 2018 Super Bowl.

Mayor Bob Fletcher said the owner of the primary property where the city's Northern Lights and Ice Festival was to take place next winter recently decided to not lease the land to the city north of St. Paul.

A good alternative site could not be found before the city was to begin entering into contracts and incurring costs, so the festival won't go on.

"It's disappointing," Fletcher said Wednesday night, April 19. "Since we received an email from the property owner last week, it's been a flurry of activity and attempts to make this work. But at some point, you need to know when to quit, too."

The city had been planning an ice castle during the festival that would have reached 52 feet—in honor of the 52nd Super Bowl—or higher on vacant land just northeast of Interstate 35E and County Road E. The ice palace was to feature 4,000 or 5,000 blocks of ice, an ice maze, ice sculpture, snow football and light shows.

As the scope of the project became obvious, the landowners' fear of liability grew, despite the fact that the city would have fully indemnified them against any liability, Fletcher said.

The city was prepared to negotiate a higher lease for the 7.5 acres, but the owners were no longer interested in leasing the land. They offered to sell it to the city, but the city wasn't interested in purchasing the property, Fletcher said.

Another shot at the Vadnais Heights ice castle may not happen for some time, he said

"The entire marketing plan hinged around the excitement of having a Super Bowl," Fletcher said, adding, however, that some local ice castles have had success without being tied to a big event like a Super Bowl.

"There will always be a market for it, but there will never be an opportunity for sponsorship like there is this year with a Super Bowl coming in," he said.

The Twin Cities will not be without an ice castle during the big game. Plans are underway to build St. Paul's first in 14 years.

The St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Winter Carnival, is still working on the details related to the castle, including dates and location.