January 26, 2018 – Located in the heart of Minneapolis, Marquette Plaza is the host to numerous vibrant companies, nonprofits, and other organizations. While you might recognize the building, you might not know about what makes it so special – and why so many people have decided to make it their home.
Marquette Plaza’s central location downtown makes it a natural fit for Meet Minneapolis, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “market, sell and maximize the visitor experience of Minneapolis for the economic benefit of our community, making Minneapolis the destination of choice among travelers.” Comprised of 65 staff members, Meet Minneapolis’ staff works together to tell the story of Minneapolis.
With a bustling arts, culture, and food scene, Minneapolis has risen as a prime destination for travelers in the last few years, being listed as the #4 travel destination by the Wall Street Journal (the only U.S. destination to be included) for “hot destinations for adventurous sophisticates, curious foodies and deep-pocketed beach bums.” And that’s not all.
We sat down with Kathy McCarthy, Director of Public Relations & Communications at Meet Minneapolis to learn about how Meet Minneapolis tells the city’s story, preparing for the Super Bowl, and the amenities of Marquette Plaza.
What is Meet Minneapolis?
Kathy: A simple way of explaining it is that we are the destination marketing organization for the city. It’s our goal to tell the story of the city and to make this a destination of choice for visitors, whether they are business or leisure travelers.
Something people might not realize about Meet Minneapolis and the Super Bowl, or the MLB All-Star Game, or the X-Games, is that these events don’t just happen. There are many people behind the scenes, actively recruiting these events to Minneapolis. Meet Minneapolis is integral to the bidding process and hosting a marquee event, such as the Super Bowl, certainly helps us market and sell the destination.
Long-term, we have created a tourism master plan, and our goal is to have 50 million visitors annually by 2030 (in 2016 it was approximately 32.5 million). The number of visitors continues to go up, and we are working hard to continue that growth in visitors.
How does an event like the Super Bowl showcase the city?
Kathy: Our goal is to showcase the city in all seasons, including the winter. We are a four season city, and we celebrate winter here. The Bold North theme helps show people around the country and world that we embrace winter and it is still a great time to be outdoors and be active.
We know there is a segment of the media that will be focused on sports, but there will be a record number of credentialed media (5800 total) who will be here to experience all that Minneapolis has to offer.
The Host Committee will be the driving force for events like Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet and the Super Bowl Experience at the Minneapolis Convention Center. We will use this opportunity with the media to talk about the different neighborhoods we have, the great dining, breweries and distilleries, along with our arts and culture scene. It’s a very cosmopolitan urban area, and that’s a story we need to continue to tell. This is an opportunity to tell that story.
We’ve had media in town, prior to the Super Bowl, and they are very interested in these different opportunities. It’s part of our role, at Meet Minneapolis, to make sure reporters have these experiences so they can help tell this story.
Outside of the Super Bowl, what is Meet Minneapolis’s approach the rest of the year?
Kathy: What’s interesting about 2018 is that it really will be a year of sports. It may start with the Super Bowl but it doesn’t end there. We will have the Summer X Games for the second time, we will host the WNBA All Star Game, at the end of the year we will host the Division I NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship and, in 2019, the NCAA Final Four. The Super Bowl is an amazing spotlight nationally and internationally, but that is not the only big sporting event.
How does Meet Minneapolis work with the community?
Kathy: We have many partners and members in our organization, and we work collaboratively to tell our story, and people are the country are taking note. Last year we had 13 James Beard nominated chef and two restaurants, and they want to help show off the city’s culinary scene. We work with hotels, restaurants, the city itself and other entities to highlight what a truly unique destination this is. We like to say “You’ve never met a place quite like this.”
Part of my team’s role is to make sure Minneapolis is featured in articles, ranked in “best of” lists, and talked about and highlighted by broadcast media outlets. This exposure helps our sales efforts in attracting more conferences, conventions, meetings and sports events to the city. We want all travelers to enjoy Minneapolis and those coming for a major convention – and taking advantage of the Minneapolis Convention Center stay in our hotels and dine in our restaurants, bringing in more revenue to Minneapolis and positively impacting the economics of the city.
What are the benefits of Meet Minneapolis being located at Marquette Plaza?
Kathy: This is a tremendous location. In terms of the Super Bowl, Super Bowl LIVE will be taking place between 12th and 6th on Nicollet, so just a couple of blocks from Marquette Plaza. Plus our Minneapolis Visitor Information location is on 5th and Nicollet, so we are very conveniently located for employees who will be at both locations during the 10-days leading up to the Big Game. Being a skyway-connected building makes it very helpful to get to other parts of the city, during the Super Bowl and throughout the year. A big thing for downtown workers and employers will be parking, and knowing that the building will honor our contract parking during the Super Bowl means one less thing our team will have to worry about and will make it much easier for us to fully focus on promoting the city during this event.
We are also very close to the stadiums, museums and theaters that Minneapolis is known for – and we are very close to the light rail. We have encouraged reporters to take the light rail from the airport straight to downtown, where we can meet them at our Minneapolis Visitor Information location. That’s a great way to connect with people and show them, right off the bat, how easy it is to get around the city.
To learn more about the work Meet Minneapolis, check out their updated website at https://www.minneapolis.org/. Even if you’ve lived here your whole life, it’s a helpful guide to learning about everything the city has to offer.