Employees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and general aviation airports in the Twin Cities are gearing up for Super Bowl 52 and the record number of travelers the game will bring. The airports will be many visitors’ first and last impression on Minnesota, providing both a challenge and an opportunity for the many organizations involved in various aspects of airport operations.
Toward that end, employees of dozens of airport-based organizations and staff from the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which owns and operates MSP and six general aviation airports, have worked for months to prepare for game week. The goal is to provide airline and private plane passengers with a safe, seamless airport experience that reflects well on Minnesota...
“Careful coordination among many organizations is absolutely critical to ensuring travelers have a great airport experience,” said MAC executive director and CEO Brian Ryks, referring in particular to federal Transportation Security, Customs and Air Traffic Control entities, airlines, ground transportation providers, food and retail concessionaires, public safety officials, the Super Bowl Host Committee, fixed base operators and the MAC. “It’s a group effort, and representatives from all parts of our airport community have been very engaged in planning over the past year. The Metropolitan Airports Commission operates one of the largest airport systems in the nation, and the positive relationships we’ve built with our airport business partners will prove indispensable as we work together exceed travelers’ expectations.”
The players touch down at MSP
The action at MSP will start a week before the game, when the airport hosts team arrivals events expected to draw more than 150 reporters and photographers. The MAC and Delta Air Lines are working with the NFL to welcome the teams playing in the Super Bowl with events on Sunday, Jan. 28 and possibly Monday, Jan. 29. Team arrivals are photo opportunities that will be held inside a Delta hangar at MSP. The media-only events will offer the first glimpse of players and coaches as they step off the plane and into a waiting bus to whisk them to their hotels. The media will receive additional information about those events later this month.
A team approach
Since February 2017, 29 committees coordinated by the MAC have met monthly to prepare for the Super Bowl. The committees focus on security, signage, transportation, airfield operations, volunteer coordination and dozens of other priorities to give visitors the best experience possible.
Some of the improvements are occurring behind the scenes, out of view of travelers. For example, the MAC has built a distributed antenna system — with about 1,000 new antennae -- that gives the airport six times more capacity than it had previously to carry voice and data for mobile phone users. In addition the MAC, in partnership with Boingo, has increased public Wi-Fi capacity by 33 percent. The Wi-Fi system also provides expanded coverage to areas such as the Terminal 1 rental car lobby and the Blue Line light rail transit station platforms. Additionally, the MAC is in the process of adding Wi-Fi to the downtown St. Paul terminal building, now home to Holman’s Table restaurant and bar.
Security-badged employees and volunteers at MSP International Airport are filling more than 1,600 four-hour shifts to greet visitors and answer questions during the week of the Super Bowl. The MSP greeters will be wearing vests that identify them as go-to sources of information.
In addition, 350 Crew 52 volunteers who are part of the Super Bowl Host Committee will work largely on the pre-security side of the airport, helping make a great first impression by welcoming guests from the first hello to the last goodbye.
All the greeters will help provide directions throughout the airport, engage guests and provide information about Super Bowl-related festivities. .
Travelers at MSP have also likely noticed the construction work along the entry road to Terminal 1-Lindbergh, where a new hotel and a skyway connecting it to Concourse C are both being built. That work has necessitated the closure of a lane of traffic. But recently, that lane was re-opened and will remain free flowing through Super Bowl weekend.
On the inside of Terminal 1’s front-facing exterior, extensive work has been underway for many months to expand the arrivals and departures lobbies out toward the drop-off and pick-up lanes. The construction walls concealing that work are set to come down in mid-January, revealing the first phase of a multi-year effort to modernize the 55-year-old ticketing and bag claim facilities and provide a spacious, light-filled lobbies that give travelers more room to check in and reclaim their bags.
Super Bowl travelers will be among the first to see the newly expanded spaces, which include new routes from the tram level to both baggage claim and ticketing, via new smart elevators and escalators.
In the last two years the MAC has also opened 50 new concessions in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, featuring some of the Twin Cities’ best known names in restaurants. Black Sheep pizza, Republic restaurant and Bar, LOLO restaurant and bar and Angel Food Bakery are just a few of the new dining spots at MSP with local ties.
On Concourse E, travelers will find the new Food Truck Alley, home to Salty Tart bakery, Red Cow bar and restaurant, and the Holy Land deli.
The airport also has a new webpage with information specific to the Super Bowl — www.mspairport.com/SuperBowl. The page provides information about concession hours, where to find Super Bowl apparel, news media tips, and details about sustainability. The site also provides information on human trafficking prevention efforts and what you can do to help identify and stop related crimes.
Airport travelers and employees who use the Blue Line Light Rail Transit system to get to MSP’s two terminals will be directed to Metro Transit buses instead on game day, Sunday Feb. 4. The Blue Line will only serve limited stops on game day to provide increased security, and MSP’s two light rail stations will not be operating. Instead, transit users will get on buses that will run along the Blue Line’s regular route and stop at or near other stations. The Blue Line will not have regular service from 4 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 4 until sometime after the game is over and the crowd in downtown Minneapolis disperses. For more information, visit www.metrotransit.org.
Thousands of drivers for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft have obtained permits to operate at MSP in recent weeks. Those services, together with taxis, limousines, shared-ride shuttles, buses and other forms of ground transportation will help ensure ready access to and from the airport.
An influx of aircraft
Out on the airfield, the MAC and its partners -- including the Federal Aviation Administration -- have been working to ensure safe, efficient operations. As many as 1,100 private planes are expected to arrive in the Twin Cities, drawn by the Super Bowl and its accompanying events. MSP and a few of the reliever airports that are also part of the MAC system have been preparing for months to accommodate the additional planes including planning to close certain airport runways so they can be used for plane parking.
MSP International Airport can handle up to 275 private planes, with plans in place to close a portion of an infrequently used runway to provide parking spaces for those aircraft.
The MAC reliever airports expected to receive the most Super Bowl traffic are the Downtown St. Paul Airport, Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie and the Anoka County-Blaine Airport. Crystal Airport could also potentially see some additional traffic by small private aircraft.
At each reliever airport, the fixed-base operators that offer ground services to private planes are cooperating to provide the best possible customer service. Everything from fueling and de-icing of airplanes to ground transportation for guests is being coordinated to ensure visitors have the services they need.
For further information, please visit: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MNORGMAC/bulletins/1d2329a