Expanded Winter Carnival hopes to draw Super Bowl crowd
ST. PAUL — Even if you don't have a ticket for the big game, the Bold North will welcome you to St. Paul.
St. Paul may not host a humongous ice castle this winter — as many originally hoped — but plans for a giant snow slide at CHS Field are still solid. And the St. Paul Winter Carnival will be extended a week for a total of 17 days of fun.
In fact, the number of St. Paul-based festivities surrounding Super Bowl 52 in February keeps growing.
Earlier this month, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman joined officials from Visit St. Paul, the city's tourism partner, to unveil a list of Super Bowl- and Winter Carnival-related events intended to delight the locals and out-of-towners coming to the game.
"No one celebrates winter better than we do," Coleman said.
When two National Football League teams face off at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, an estimated 1 million visitors will flock to the Twin Cities to network, to help set up, attend related events or just be near the action.
The St. Paul-based activities include a Feb. 3 concert by the Dave Matthews Band at the Xcel Energy Center titled "The Night Before" and a "Taste of the NFL" evening at the RiverCentre to raise hunger awareness.
The events kick off on the evening of Jan. 29 with "Super Bowl Opening Night" media interviews with players at the Xcel, which is already sold out.
Coleman and Visit St. Paul unveiled a list of activities at the Securian Club Room at CHS Field, which will be the starting point of a 40-foot giant snow slide onto the ball field.
An area adjacent to the ball field will host the "Bold North Winter Night Market" Feb. 2 and 3.
Visit St. Paul maintains a calendar of Super Bowl-related events online.
With the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, it's uncertain how many visitors will cross the river to partake in St. Paul activities, but organizers are optimistic.
"I don't know how you would guesstimate that," said Adam Johnson, vice president of marketing and media relations for Visit St. Paul, in an interview near the area where the CHS slide is already beginning to take shape. "Thousands is what you hope for when you invest in this infrastructure. It'll be extra unique for visitors who aren't from a cold climate — 'I went down a 40-foot snow slide!' It's kind of a bucket-list kind of thing."
Sara Remke, who runs the Black Dog Cafe in Lowertown with partners, said spillover from the Super Bowl crowds is tough to predict, but the beefed-up Winter Carnival will help draw local patrons.
Her coffee shop and bar will sell alcohol at the new outdoor night market, which is being organized by the Asian Economic Development Association.
"If people are going to come sledding here, we are going to get business," Remke said. "If people are going to the night market, we are going to get business. I think that's great."
Her brother, Andy Remke, noted that downtown business owners have been hoping for CHS Field to draw winter guests since it opened. "People have been waiting for three years to have some winter activity in this facility," he said.
No ice castle, but...
In October, an events company that had been working with Winter Carnival organizers announced it was unable to raise the $5 million necessary to bring back the giant ice castle tradition of years gone by in time for Super Bowl LII.
The news disappointed diehard fans of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, a 10-day celebration that dates back to 1886.
Despite the setback, the 2018 Winter Carnival will be extended a week to coincide with other Super Bowl activities from Jan. 25 to Feb. 10.
Organizers say they'll put extra energy into the ice sculpture garden in Rice Park, and the Vulcans Snow Park at the State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights will be open all 17 days of the carnival.
Como Zoo and Conservatory will host a "Bold North" Flower Show from Jan. 13 to March 11. Bold North is the slogan of the Minnesota Super Bowl host committee.
The Red Bull Crashed Ice skating competition returns to the Cathedral of St. Paul Jan. 18 to Jan. 20.
The St. Paul Winter Carnival will run for 17 days from Jan. 25 to Feb. 10 and will feature three parades, a Frozen Family Fun Night and a Feb. 3 Winterfest celebration featuring members of the USA Olympic Team.
Also from Jan. 25 through Feb. 10, CHS Field will feature the St. Paul Super Slide, a 40-foot long adventure on a rubber sled.
The Science Museum of Minnesota will feature a "Sportsology" exhibit, and the Minnesota Children's Museum's will feature "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, A Grr-iffic Exhibit."
The James J. Hill House, the Landmark Center, St. Paul Public Library and Minnesota History Center and other St. Paul attractions are participating in a "Family Bowl," where visitors who collect passport stamps from each location are eligible for prizes.