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McFeely: Committee hopes to make Super Bowl a statewide event

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Andrea Mokros, communications director for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, was the keynote speaker at the third annual Sports Communications Conference at Minnesota State University Moorhead on Wednesday, Oct. 18. 2 / 3
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MOORHEAD, Minn. — One of the committee members helping plaster Minnesota Nice all over Super Bowl LII (that's 52 for all non-Romans reading this) is a Green Bay Packers fan from Wisconsin, even though she claims living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a paltry 25 years somehow qualifies her as a "Minnesotan."

Sorry, Andrea Mokros, if I may be so bold as to speak for all Real Minnesotans: Nice try. You are not allowed to erase such ancestral deficiencies simply by having a certain address for only a quarter of a century. Once a 'Sconi, always a 'Sconi. We're nice, but not that nice.

When confronted with this reality, the communications director of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee—the game will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018—seemed to take it in good humor. She perhaps realized the scandalous nature of her position and tried to calm her frothing bulldog inquisitor—yours truly, on my 970 WDAY radio show—by smiling and saying simply: "At the Super Bowl, we welcome all football fans."

Perhaps, but we don't have to do it warmly. Minnesota Nice just happens to be a better marketing slogan than Minnesota Passive-Aggressiveness. If the Cheeseheads want to stumble west for a week in late January and early February, we'll take their money while grinding our teeth through fake smiles.

I joke, of course, about Mokros' inadequacies. It's a Minnesota-Wisconsin thing. In fact, her story as a key player in Minnesota's Super Bowl festivities should be celebrated as a tale of remarkable resiliency—how a young woman overcame the odds of being born in Wisconsin to make something useful of herself in Minnesota.

OK, seriously, enough with the gags. Mokros was the keynote speaker Wednesday, Oct. 18, at an annual conference on sports communication at Minnesota State University Moorhead. She laid out a plan of how the Super Bowl host committee plans to make the game a statewide event and a celebration of all that is Minnesota. She did a wonderful job.

Task No. 1: Embrace winter. The Twin Cities are not Miami, New Orleans or Phoenix. Even a Milwaukee native knows this (sorry). So, Mokros said, the committee is going to "lean into that."

"You can't hide February," she said, using her go-to line. "We're going to embrace it, call it Bold North and make it a celebration of winter in Minnesota."

Whether this flies with the corporate and glitterati dandies who frequent the Super Bowl is a big question—I doubt it, a frozen lake can't compete with South Beach. It should make Minnesotans proud and will be welcoming to those in-state (and North Dakota) visitors who road-trip to the Twin Cities to check out the festivities even if they aren't going to the game. There'll be all sorts of free and cheap events for John Q. Football Fan from Fergus Falls to attend in the 10 days leading up to the game.

Mokros said more than 1 million visitors will make their way to the Twin Cities for Super Bowl-related events, with an estimated economic impact of $400 million. And then there is the worldwide media exposure for Minnesota, worth an estimated $500 million.

"It's an opportunity for us to welcome the world to our state and hopefully welcome them back in another season," Mokros said. "If you have fun in February, just think how much fun it's going to be in the summer."

When Mokros says "our state," I think she means Minnesota. Given the fact she's only been a resident for 25 years, one can never be sure. This Real Minnesotan chooses to give her the benefit of the doubt.