Host committee needs thousands to join the Super Bowl welcome wagon
Former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway is forming a different team to represent the state.
On the field, the recently retired player wore the number 52 and he continues to do so as the captain of Crew 52, a team of volunteers who will serve as the welcome wagon for football fans and ticketholders flocking to downtown Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII next February.
The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee will interview thousands and thousands of people in a newly opened volunteer headquarters in City Center to form the 10,000-strong Crew 52.
“Crew 52 needs people who are bold, friendly and can help make memories for a lifetime for our guests,” Greenway says in an orientation video for volunteer hopefuls.
The committee, a privately funded organization that works with the NFL, needs volunteers to support its mission of hosting a “safe and successful” Super Bowl, an event that is far more than one football game. Communications Director Michael Howard said the Super Bowl has developed in recent years to become a “massive, interactive” phenomenon that’s isn’t simply focused on ticketholders.
For Minneapolis, this will mean hosting a 10-day Super Bowl LIVE festival downtown that will be free and open for average football fans and residents. The committee hasn’t yet disclosed the location for the indoor and outdoor event, which will feature concerts, photo opportunities and concessions ahead of the big game.
“The host committee really is trying to make this — and it is — an opportunity for Minnesotans and people in the region to make their own Super Bowl memory,” he said.
To throw the football fest, the committee will need volunteers to direct fans and Super Bowl attendees, offer advice on local restaurants and bars and assist at Super Bowl LIVE. While volunteers won’t actually be at the Super Bowl game itself, Howard said, they will see the Super Bowl action from locations throughout the Twin Cities — around downtown, light rail stations and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Howard estimates the committee will interview about 14,000-15,000 people at the downtown Crew 52 headquarters over the course of the year. Still, Howard said they’re confident they will hit the goal.
Interest in volunteering has been “overwhelming,” he said. More than 9,000 people signed up to volunteer in the first two days when registration opened in March. Volunteers have hailed from more than 100 cities across the state, Howard added.
“It fits within our spirit of Minnesota pride,” he said, “They’re excited to step up.”
Committee officials hope to make the event a uniquely “Bold North” experience.
It’s not often a northern city gets to host the Super Bowl. Since it started in the 1960s, the Super Bowl has only come to the Midwest a few times: Indianapolis in 2012, Detroit in 2006 and Minneapolis in 1992. Howard said this gives the city a chance to do something different, such as hosting outdoor events during a Minnesota winter.
“We’re going to be leaning into that. We want folks to go outside. If it snows a little bit, that’d be great. We want people to experience Minnesota,” he said.
The game will look a lot different than the last Super Bowl game in Texas earlier this year. In embracing the cold conditions the committee will outfit volunteers with uniforms consisting of a jacket, polo, hat and other gear.
“It will have layers — more layers than they needed in Houston,” he said.
Potential volunteers will need to pass a background check and be at least 18 years old. The committee asks volunteers to sign up for three shifts throughout the festival. Applicants will go through a roughly 25-minute interview at the Crew 52 headquarters.
The people giving the interviews are volunteers themselves. Many have human resources and volunteer coordination experience, Howard said.
“Mainly we want people who are outgoing, have a smile on their face and have no trouble going up to folks on the street and pointing them in the right direction,” Howard said.
The facility, located on Nicollet Mall in the former Sports Authority space in City Center, will transform into an operations center closer to the Super Bowl. Volunteers will return there early next year to check-in and get their shifts.
If the estimated 1 million Super Bowl visitors have a good time, committee officials say the Twin Cities are set to benefit from hosting the big game on Feb. 4, 2018.
“If we do it right, those guests and those businesses will come back, time and again,” says Maureen Bausch, the committee’s CEO, in a volunteer orientation video.