“Just once in a lifetime
A man knows a moment
One wonderful moment
When fate takes his hand
And this is my moment
My once in a lifetime“
Sammy Davis Jr.
It’s Wednesday now and I’ve had some time to reflect on the awesomeness which was Super Bowl weekend in Minneapolis. It came together so quickly but it ended up a once in a lifetime experience… WOW was it a crazy 3 days! Here’s how it all went down:
Friday, February 2nd:
4:30am: Wake-up call in my hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica… already a rough start as I’m definitely no morning person.
5:00pm: After a brief layover in Atlanta, I finally landed in Minneapolis. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was going to be bitterly cold. Needless to say, I didn’t pack a lot of cold weather gear for my trip to Costa Rica so I had to make do with my one pair of jeans and about 7 layers of t-shirts under the one long sleeve t-shirt that I brought with me.
8:00pm: After an insanely overpriced cab ride to check in to my hotel, I got back in an Uber to head back to the Mall of America. This mall might be the craziest thing I saw all weekend! There’s 900,000,000 stores, an aquarium, a small amusement park, and two hotels (incidentally one for the Eagles and the other for the Patriots… no fights were reported). I met up with LoAnna who got me in to the Eagles pre-game party. They had live music and rented out the Hard Rock Café and all of the roller coasters in the middle of the mall. And instead of getting some local jazz quartet, the Eagles went all out and had Migos perform! It’s been at least 5 years since my last hip-hop concert but these guys were awesome! It didn’t hurt that it was a small venue and we were able to get within a few feet of the stage. The stage was between the Lego store and the Nickelodeon roller coaster so the show was equal parts kid-friendly and completely not kid-friendly at all. At this point, I got my first glimpse of a few players and coaches (most of whom were walking around the mall throughout the weekend because it was too cold to go outside).
After Migos was done and before we drank too much, it was time to ride some rides. They weren’t long rides but the MOA (as the locals call it) has some legit roller coasters. Reminds me that I need to go to amusement parks more often.
11:00pm: We left the MOA heading into downtown Minneapolis to go see Pink perform at a medium sized venue called the Armory. Before I talk about Pink, let me just say that this was one of the coolest venues I’ve ever seen. A huge hollowed out old warehouse (an armory, I guess) with a couple of levels along the sides for people to get some different views. Below the main level was a big open area to hang out. There wasn’t much going on down there as most of the action was upstairs, but if you had a big event, even the basement would’ve been a cool place to host a party… but on this day it was mostly an oversized coat check.
Now, coming into the night, I must admit that I wasn’t a huge Pink fan… if she comes on the radio, I’d probably check 2-3 other stations for better songs before I’d come back to her. But she was awesome even though she apparently had the flu. Some people are just performers! Pink is a performer! Watching her show, I was reminded how many hits she has. Pretty impressive… consider me a fan!
After Pink was done, LoAnna, her mom, and I hung out at the Armory for a bit and danced and drank to a local DJ. Large venues are great until they’re half full and all the empty space becomes noticeable. It started to clear out after a while so we made our move. Fortunately, it was Super Bowl weekend so there were a million things to do, even at 1:30am. For the weekend, the city extended bar hours from 2am to 4am so the night was young even though I was 21+ hours into my day. And so many performers were in town for the weekend: in addition to all the concerts we saw, P-Diddy, Kygo, Dave Matthews Band, Kevin Hart, Florida Georgia Line, Jimmy Fallon, and more were all in town playing! A little something for everyone based on that list…
1:30am: From the Armory, we took a 3-block Uber ride (honestly, WAY too cold to walk) to another super cool venue called the Lumber Exchange. There were 3 levels with a different DJ on each level. We went to the top level which was a fairly small room that felt like a mini-courtyard as there were 6 levels of rooms looking down onto the floor and stage. Anyway, the event was put on by Barstool Sports and featured Jamie Foxx and Kaskade (who me missed). Don’t know who the DJ was at the end of the night but he was great too. Danced and drank until the party shut down and then we began the fight to find an Uber at closing time of Super Bowl week. As I had to find a hotel on the Tuesday before the big game using points to try to save some money, needless to say it was a long drive back to the hotel.
5:30am: Arrived at the hotel by 5:30am for a 25-hour day… first time I’ve done that in a while.
Saturday, February 3rd:
(Yes, I realize that technically February 3rd started at the Armory but it still counts as yesterday if you haven’t slept yet.)
11:30am: Woke up. Not enough sleep but it felt weird to sleep much later than that. I had no rental car and my hotel was in the middle of nowhere so I snacked on a granola bar while I gathered the energy to head back up to the MOA.
2:00pm: I finally made it to the mall and ate. I think they have about 14 food courts in the mall so no shortage of options. My friend Anthony was scheduled to arrive at 3:30 so I wandered around for a bit. Nice to have a few quiet moments after a long day though even in this few hours, the mall got noticeably busier. The city was ramping up for Sunday!!
5:00pm: Anthony met me at the MOA and we grabbed some food before taking an Uber to get him checked into the room. There were rumors of $36 chips and guac and $45 burgers in Minneapolis so we thought it wise to thoroughly overeat before leaving the mall.
8:00pm: LoAnna had to do some work but she managed to score us some passes to see J-Lo back at the Armory. So at 8pm, Anthony and I headed up to Minneapolis to meet her and her mom again. After he arrived, Anthony kindly paid for most of the Ubers that we took but I still spent over $320 in Uber and taxi rides over the weekend. We met this awesome Uber driver (Patrick) a few hours earlier on our way back to the hotel and he basically offered to be “on call” for us for most of the weekend. We ended up riding with him 3 times which was great because getting a driver to come all the way down to our hotel was challenging to say the least. He was just one example of how completely over-the-top nice everyone in Minnesota was… seriously so so nice.
10:00pm: After grabbing a drink near the stadium, we all met up at the Armory for J-Lo who like Pink wasn’t necessarily my favorite but she, too, was pretty awesome! At one point, DJ Khaled came on stage for a couple of songs and was… interesting. He was only on stage for about 5 minutes but it was a full 5 minutes of shameless self-promotion led by numerous “I say DJ, you say Khaled” chants and repeated references to all his hits. I mean, he’s good but just play your songs already dude!
1:00am: J-Lo finished up a bit earlier and again there was another DJ for a bit. LoAnna and her mom decided to call it an early night but I was anxious to show Anthony how many cool things were going on in Minneapolis. But, as I mentioned earlier, the city was really starting to fill up and the lines were long and the prices were high. Anthony was cold and I started to get a bit tired so after wandering in sub-zero temperatures for an hour or so, we decided to head back and save our energy and tolerance for cold until Sunday.
2:45am: Asleep. Not bad.
Super Bowl Sunday, February 4th:
12:00pm: After breakfast, I had a problem to solve. My flight back to Costa Rica was at 5:25am and my hotel was a good 40 minutes away from Minneapolis, without factoring in potential Super Bowl traffic. I didn’t pack much but I had to figure out what to do with my bag since there was no way I was getting anywhere near the stadium with a backpack on. So we called up our good friend, Patrick, to give us a ride to the airport so I could store my bag there. Upon arrival, I discovered that all the storage lockers were behind security so I had to print my boarding pass and go through security. I got a bit of a strange look from the TSA agent who noticed that I was going through security 18 hours before my flight and before the Super Bowl while wearing Eagles gear. I told him I was there to leave my baggage in a locker, which again felt weird since airports generally aren’t wild about “unattended baggage”… but he understood and I went on my way.
2:00pm: No trains were running from the airport to Minneapolis on Sunday so we had to take a long bus ride to the city. We met LoAnna and her mom for “52 Live”, a free event put on by the NFL. They had a DJ, some NFL legends doing some interviews (Jim Kelly, Emmitt Smith, and local hero John Randle just to name a few), and a bunch of free food. Then, Kelly Clarkson played for an hour and at 4pm, it was time to head for the security lines! (She was good but honestly I was too excited about the game to really care.)
4:30pm: Security lines were long but everything ran rather smoothly. The one confusing part to me was that the stadium seemed unusually full. The concourse was barely walkable which at first seemed understandable since it was the Super Bowl but at the same time was weird because it’s not like more people attended the Super Bowl than any normal Vikings’ game. Anyway, my point is that it was busy.
5:30pm: KICK-OFF!! WOW!! What a game!! I didn’t leave my seat for 4+ hours (partially to avoid the crowds in the concourse and partially because the game and halftime show were wildly entertaining)! It’s weird because I’m going to write this entire blog post about the Super Bowl and not devote any more space to the actual game because you all saw it too. It was unbelievable!!
9:30pm: Game ended and we watched a bit of the post-game ceremony before heading out towards the post game party. Again, the stadium seemed unusually busy but maybe that’s just how it was designed (i.e., a beautiful stadium but poor crowd control).
10:30pm: We finally got out of the stadium and figured there was no chance of getting an Uber so we braved the cold to get to the Eagles’ post game party which LoAnna was able to score some passes to. There was some security to get through but not too bad and then we loaded up on great food and free booze! What an event! A Philadelphia-based DJ who plays a bunch of Eagles’ events started the event off and then Cardi B came on for a short set. Once she finished, Diplo came on and the team started to roll in. It was seriously cool to see a bunch of guys who just played one of the most amazing games in football history watched by 110+ million(!!) people roll in to celebrate the pinnacle of their professional career!! Plus, it was a first-class party with loads of swag, great music, delicious food, and bottomless drinks. I’m still not entirely sure how I ended up there but it really was a once-in-a-lifetime moment! Thanks LoAnna!
3:15am: Now the hard part… getting to the airport for a 5:25am flight. I made it without incident, grabbed my unattended bag from the locker and got on the flight. I don’t remember taking off or landing for that matter but I woke up in time to run across the Atlanta airport to catch my connection back to Costa Rica.
3:00pm: I was back on the beach ready for another epic Costa Rican sunset. What a weekend…
I was only in Minneapolis for about 60 hours but it was action-packed! We saw Migos, Pink, J-Lo, DJ Khaled, Diplo, Cardi B, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake (Super Bowl halftime), and a bunch of great DJs. The experience around the game was top notch and for the past few years, the games themselves have been incredible too. Yes, it’s expensive… from hotels to Uber rides to food & beverage costs to the game itself… but it was so much fun!! My recommendation, start saving up some hotel points, frequent flier miles, and a few bucks and go to a Super Bowl once in your life. You won’t regret it!
Thanks again to LoAnna for giving the gift of a once in a lifetime experience! I owe you a coffee or something…