January 30, 2018

Tips for Philadelphians surviving the week of the Super Bowl in Minneapolis

Getting there, what to do in your spare time, and staying safe amid the chaos

Super Bowl LII Travel
Super Bowl travel Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports

An airplane with Philadelphia Eagles on board arrives in advance of Super Bowl LII at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport on Jan. 28, 2018.

Last week, when the Eagles hosted the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, Philadelphia was flooded with visitors from Minnesota. This week, that dynamic reverses itself, with hundreds of Philadelphians streaming into the Twin Cities to watch their Eagles in Super Bowl LII.

Things, as you may have read in recent days, could get ugly, with reports of everything from plans of Uber-related revenge to Airbnb shenanigans to suggestions of untoward things to be done to the Mary Tyler Moore statue in retaliation for the Minnesota fans’ Vikings-scarf-on-the-Rocky-statue stunt from last week. An eye for an eye – a ‘70s icon for a ‘70s icon…

As a Minnesota native who has lived in Philadelphia for the last 13 years, I find myself uneasy with such hostility between my original and adopted hometowns. Eagles and Vikings fans, after all, have much in common, starting with the experience of suffering with their teams for years. After all, why must these two great fan bases fight, when they should be joining forces to root against the Patriots?

I wouldn’t worry too much about actual, real-life unrest in the Twin Cities during Super Bowl week. I can’t imagine anyone jeopardizing their precious Uber or Airbnb ratings just to screw with rival sports fans, nor am I expecting any actual violence on the streets of Minneapolis in retaliation for the various mayhem that went down in and around Lincoln Financial Field last Sunday. As is usually the case in such situations, nobody is likely to antagonize you, unless you antagonize them first.

Fan enmity aside, if you’re heading to the Upper Midwest for the big game, here are some tips of what to do:

Getting there:

There are direct flights every day from Philadelphia to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and the airport, located in suburban Bloomington, is connected by a light rail to downtown Minneapolis.

However, reports are that flights are exceedingly expensive throughout Super Bowl week, so if you’re going, you might consider making it a road trip. Philadelphia to Minneapolis is an underrated drive. It’s a little over 1,000 miles, and the route makes it easy to stop for a night in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and/or Chicago. And make sure to stop in Wisconsin for some cheese before crossing the border into Minnesota.

Once you get there, Minneapolis is a very walkable city, so if you don’t drive there, you shouldn't need to rent a car if you're staying downtown. Also, unlike recent Super Bowls in cities like New York and San Francisco, in this case, the stadium is both right in the downtown of the host city and within walking distance of hotels and most of the other event venues throughout the week.

Weather factors:

First off, the elephant in the room: It’s Minnesota in February, so yes, it’s going to be cold, with early forecasts calling for highs in the teens and lows possibly below zero the weekend of the game. The majority of Super Bowls are held in warm-weather cities for a reason. But if you’re an Eagles fan, you’re probably used to your football being served up with a side of frigid weather.

The good news is, the game itself is being played indoors, at U.S. Bank Stadium – so no, there won’t be any snowballs. And unlike the year Dallas hosted the Super Bowl and got paralyzed that week by snow, the Twin Cities knows how to handle weather emergencies.

Even better, downtown Minneapolis has a network of skyways that connect the area and make it exceedingly easy to get from building to building without needing to brave the cold. The skyways are such an iconic part of that town that one of Minnesota’s greatest bands, The Replacements, wrote a song about them: 

Of course, you’re going to be outside sometimes, so don’t forget to bring plenty of warm clothes.

Local attractions

If you’re a Prince die-hard, you may be planning a pilgrimage to the late music legend’s estate, where he lived, recorded and died. Paisley Park (7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen) offers tours and exclusive merchandise, but keep in mind: The estate, in suburban Chanhassan, is a bit of a trek – a 30-minute cab or Uber ride from downtown.

If you’re looking for a place with Prince significance that’s not as far away, First Avenue and Seventh Street Entry (701 N. 1st Ave.) is the legendary downtown Minneapolis music venue that’s featured in the movie "Purple Rain," and features, on its outside wall, stars with the names of many of the biggest acts who have played there over the years.

Beyond the Purple One, Minneapolis is known for its lakes. There are three huge ones in the city of Minneapolis – Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun (now known as Bde Maka Ska) and Lake Harriet – which are always nice for a walk, even if the lakes are frozen.

If you’re a fan of Peanuts, look for Charlie Brown and Snoopy iconography all over the Twin Cities, from statues to pictures, in honor of Peanuts creator and St. Paul native Charles Schultz. Eagles fans, after all, are certainly familiar with the sensation of Lucy pulling away the football…

Eats

Philadelphia has Pat’s and Geno’s at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue. Minneapolis has its own pair of neighboring businesses who both claim ownership of a certain meat-and-cheese delicacy. In Minnesota, it’s the cheese-baked-into-the-burger concoction known as the Juicy Lucy, which two rival South Minneapolis restaurants – Matt’s Bar (3500 Cedar Ave.) and The 5-8 Club (5800 Cedar Ave. S) – claim to have invented. Try ‘em both, preferably late at night.

Going to the Super Bowl means missing out on Philly's annual Wing Bowl. But Twin Cities is a pretty great place for wings. The most acclaimed wings in town include the Monte Carlo (219 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis), Hickory Hut (647 University Ave., St. Paul); Psycho Suzi’s (1900 Marshall St. Northeast, Minneapolis,) and Runyon’s (107 N. Washington Ave, Minneapolis). Buffalo Wild Wings even has its corporate headquarters in Minneapolis (but no, don’t go there). 

Minneapolis is also well known for steak, with two famous downtown steakhouses: Manny’s (825 S. Marquette Ave.) and Murray’s (26 South 6th St.). St. Paul, meanwhile, had a restaurant called The Strip Club – which was not a strip club, but rather a steakhouse that specialized in strip steaks. It closed last year.

Super Bowl Events

Throughout the week, there are various official Super Bowl events. The Super Bowl Experience, featuring various NFL-related exhibitions, runs throughout the week at the Minneapolis Convention Center (1301 2nd Ave. S, Minneapolis.)

While U.S. Bank Stadium lacks a Philly-style giant parking lot, the tailgating will instead take place across downtown, at an event called StubHub's Field House at Target Field, the baseball stadium, with food and tailgating games on the day of the game. The event, hosted by Maria Menounos, is open to anyone with a Super Bowl ticket.

The main drag for Super Bowl week is Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, which will feature various food, attractions and – on Monday night – a Prince tribute concert.

Speaking of concerts, the last time the Super Bowl was in Minneapolis, in 1992, the big night-before-the-game concert was headlined by Frank Sinatra. This year, a wide variety of acts are lined up for concerts in the days before the big game.

Doylestown’s own Pink will warm up for her National Anthem performance with a concert at the Armory in Minneapolis the Friday before the game, with Jennifer Lopez performing at the same venue the following night. The Dave Matthews Band will play the official “The Night Before” concert at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Saturday night. And speaking of Philly natives, Kevin Hart is set for a stand-up concert at Minneapolis’ Target Center on Friday.

If you’re going to the Super Bowl, stay warm, stay safe, and be nice to your hosts. Go Eagles.