Column: The unsung will make the Super Bowl great

If you hadn’t heard that Super Bowl 52 is coming to Minnesota in February, send me your address, I’ll make sure the Welcome Wagon rolls up your driveway. (It missed me when I moved to Richfield a few years ago.)

There’s a media-fueled awareness campaign going on, and it’s hard to miss. The crowning 60 minutes of the professional football season will be played in the $1 billion Minneapolis stadium that will probably be considered outdated and in need of replacement in 30 years. But building it has ensured a steady stream of cash flowing into the Land of 10,000 Lakes, as least for another 18 months, so how can we argue?

Not so long ago, I scoffed at the army of volunteers being assembled to volunteer on behalf of the ridiculously lucrative football league. The fine folks organizing the many events that will be conducted in the days prior to the game deem it necessary to recruit volunteers to help out in simple ways. I’m still not clear on what all those ways are, but we want to be helpful to all those out-of-town visitors who will grace us with their presence in the dead of winter, and will have volunteers available to point the visitors in the right direction, I have learned.

While I find it a bit insulting to ask people to volunteer their time for events tied to a football game many of us couldn’t justify buying a ticket for, I do understand the desire to be part of a big event in some capacity, and I’m guessing that many of those who are volunteering will have no other connection to the game beyond watching it on television.

I imagine plenty of people are excited by the Super Bowl’s presence, as it will represent additional income at a time when some of us are still paying for the excess of the holiday season. If you have a part-time income that is tied to working at the football stadium on event days, the Super Bowl provides an income opportunity that normally doesn’t exist. Congratulations to you, unless you’ll end up missing a swell party at Uncle Peter’s house.

Those who earn part- or full-time incomes offering taxi service with their personal vehicle will likely find increased demand and earning potential for at least a day or two before and after the football game.

It’s certainly a great time to own a hotel. I don’t know anybody who does, but if you happen to own a hotel, you’ll be renting those rooms at rates you’ll probably never see again when the calendar flips to February in future years. Restaurant, catering and other hospitality businesses should also see an increase in demand for their services for a period of a week or so, and through no effort of their own.

I think the people who deserve the most applause in the months to come are those who will be asked to do their jobs, for the same pay they receive every other week of the year, and won’t reap the benefits of the cash influx the Super Bowl brings.

I suppose bartenders and waitresses stand to make a lot of extra cash if they work at a busy bar or restaurant that happens to be on a popular path traveled by the Super Bowl crowd. And there will probably be opportunities for extra shifts, or even overtime, for the restaurant dishwashers, hotel housekeepers and airport baggage handlers among us.

But I’m guessing that for every person who reaps a financial windfall thanks to one football game, there will be as many people who will work harder or longer than usual, with no financial benefit to them. That’s not a crime, that’s the way our economy works.

It’s easier to work harder, and longer, when there’s a fat stack of greenbacks waiting at the end of the day. For those who will be helping cater to the out-of-towners, without an economic incentive to do so, helping our guests believe they’ve stumbled upon a winter wonderland, I say thanks. You’ll be the unsung heroes of what is sure to be proclaimed the greatest Super Bowl festivities in history.


Follow Bloomington community editor Mike Hanks on Twitter at @suncurrent and on Facebook at suncurrentcentral.wi