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125,000 out-of-towners expected for Super Bowl, pre-game events in Twin Cities

ST. PAUL—With hotels booked and parties planned, it sure seems like a lot of people are descending on the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl. Just how many remains to be seen.

The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee has said the Sunday, Feb. 4, game and the hoopla leading up to it will draw more than 1 million visitors to Twin Cities.

A pregame report by Rockport Analytics, a Pennsylvania-based firm hired by the Host Committee, estimates how many of those visitors will come from out of town. They put that number at 125,400.

Kenneth McGill, Rockport's managing director, said the host committee's 1 million figure includes people who are expected to be in the Twin Cities not only for Super Bowl LII, but for the events in the 10 days before—things like Super Bowl Live, a free festival on Nicollet Mall, and the Super Bowl Experience at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

For Rockport's research estimates, visitors fall under two categories.

"A visitor is someone who comes in and stays overnight in paid accommodations of some kind," McGill said. "And the other kind of visitor is someone who has traveled more than 50 miles one way for a day trip."

The 125,400 number, McGill said, includes people who come in for the game with tickets—around 60,000 fans—as well as those who go to the events, non-local credentialed workers, the two teams and their families and personnel.

So under Rockport's estimate, roughly 875,000 people included in the host committee's 1 million-visitor-estimate live in the Twin Cities area or just outside of it.

For the record, McGill added, the firm uses the United Nations World Tourism Organization's definition of a visitor, "which means nothing more than we're using a standard that everyone uses, so that we avoid that sort of definitional bias you can get if you use a different definition everywhere you go."

The reason for the 50-mile perimeter is to gauge the economic impact on the local economy, which is generally defined as the metropolitan area, McGill said.

According to Rockport's estimates, Super Bowl LII will bring an estimated $407 million in new spending to the Twin Cities' metro area, with about $88 million coming from overnight stays.

"This will come from both the local travel spending of 125,000 expected visitors and an estimated $122 million of local game/event operations expenditures," Rockport's report says.

About $68 million in regular tourism activity will be displaced by the event, however, resulting in net incremental spending of $338 million, the report adds.

Last year, after Super Bowl LI in Houston, Rockport came up with 150,000 true visitors.

"We predicted 138,000 before the game," McGill said. "But the visitors spent more than we thought they would."