- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - There are rewards for spending $1 billion on a new stadium.

Just ask Minneapolis, which probably sees the 10-figure sum as a bargain after being awarding the 2018 Super Bowl.

In a surprise that had the Twin Cities bid committee high-fiving and hugging as if Adrian Peterson had just broken another vintage touchdown run, Minneapolis beat New Orleans and Indianapolis in voting by the 32 NFL owners.

Everyone from Commissioner Roger Goodell to a variety of owners, including the Vikings’ Wilf family, to members of the other cities’ bidding groups agreed on the decisive factor.

“The stadium project, the effort they had to bring that stadium to completion, the plans they have for it and the commitment that community has demonstrated was a positive influence on several owners that I talked to,” Goodell said.

“The new stadium was absolutely the deciding factor,” Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation President Jay Cicero said. “Any time that there is so much public support for a $1 billion stadium, the NFL owners are impressed.

“We did everything we were supposed to do, had a fantastic presentation. In the end we think the stadium did it.”

The Vikings lobbied for years to replace the aging Metrodome, one of the NFL’s least profitable facilities. When Minnesota political leaders realized the team could move out of state without a new home, the stadium project moved forward. Legislators in 2012 approved the stadium, with taxpayers carrying about 56 percent of the freight.

The reaction by everyone involved from Minnesota made observers think it was worth all the work.

“I saw our Super Bowl committee in the green room on TV, and the way they jumped for joy is the way I felt inside,” Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said. “We can rejoice now.”

The stadium will hold up to 72,000 for the Super Bowl. The big game will be staged in the Twin Cities for the second time: It was there in 1992, when Washington beat Buffalo.

Owners at the spring league meeting needed four ballots to choose Minneapolis, with Indianapolis the first city eliminated. Indy was praised for a highly successful 2012 Super Bowl, but could have been hurt by the recent legal troubles of Colts owner Jim Irsay.

Irsay underwent treatment after he was arrested and accused of having $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his car. He made his first public appearance at these meetings since the arrest.

Irsay said Indianapolis will bid again.

“Before, we had to lose one to get one,” he said, noting Indy fell short in previous bids before landing the 2012 game. “It will take persistence and we know we have the type of people who will be that.”

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