Hannable: Sights and sounds from Super Bowl LII in bizarre location of Minnesota

Ryan Hannable
January 30, 2018 - 2:03 am

Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Thousands of people will walk through the doors of the Mall of America over the next few days.

No, there’s not a million sales at various stores and there’s not a new attraction at the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park — it’s Super Bowl LII week.

A place typically packed around Christmas time is now jammed the first week of February with media types from around the world, all while it’s business as usual in the mall.

The food court has been taken over by Radio Row. Hundreds of stations from around the country are now mixed in with the likes of Chick-Fil-A, Shake Shack and Starbucks. 

At most other Super Bowl locations Radio Row is its own attraction in a massive convention room, but not this week. The same goes for the media workroom. It isn’t a large convention space, instead a large room tucked in between actual stores in the mall.

The team hotels are also strangely placed as well.

New England is staying in the JW Marriott on one side of the mall, while the Eagles are in the Radisson Blu on the other. Upon arriving Monday afternoon, several Patriots players were spotted grabbing a quick bite to eat at Shake Shack and others were checking out what the mall had to offer. Dion Lewis even had a chance to catch up with his former Eagles teammates in the middle of the mall.

Armed police personnel stand guard in front of every possible entrance to each team hotel, but still it seems very strange to have the teams stay in such a central location seemingly mixed in with the general public.

It is a very strange dynamic, especially considering three years ago in Phoenix the Patriots were staying at the Wild Horse Pass resort, which seemed to be miles away from civilization. Last year in Houston the team was roughly 30 minutes from the center of town and nowhere near the Falcons.

It is likely both teams move to more secluded places for the weekend, but it’s an odd sight to see players from each team mingling with one another in a mall since their hotels are separated by a short walk.

The other not so Super Bowl-like thing? The temperatures.

Normally Super Bowl cities are known for their warm climates, but that's not the case this time around. Monday’s highs were in the teens and by game day on Sunday, temperatures aren’t expected to reach double-digits with lows below zero.

Thankfully, U.S. Bank Stadium is indoors.

Tuesday is an off-day for the Patriots, which likely will be spent with extra meetings inside the hotel and likely some wandering around the mall trying to kill some time. Wednesday they will get back to work with a normal practice. As the home team, the Patriots are practicing at the Vikings’ practice facility, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue.

Even the practices are a unique experience.

The indoor facility at Winter Park in Eden Prairie doesn’t have tall enough ceilings, so no punting or kicking can be done. This is part of the reason why the Vikings are getting a new practice facility next season. 

Normalsy likely won't happen until Sunday night when the two teams play on a standard 100-yard field inside a dome for the Lombardi Trophy. Until then, enjoy the experience. There likely will never be a Super Bowl location like this again.

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