AP NEWS

U.S. Bank Stadium among reasons for X games’ arrival in Minneapolis

July 12, 2017 GMT

It was during one of the most unseasonable times of the year that Ryan McGuinness came to Minnesota in order gauge its potential fit for the X Games.

McGuinness, the X Games’ director of event development, and other members of the selection committee, showed up in Minneapolis in February 2016. Even though he has lived throughout cold-weather spot New England most of his life, McGuinness was apprehensive to consider Minneapolis.

“Everything I heard was, ‘Oh, it’s so cold,’” McGuinness said. “You don’t want to go there.”

He braved the trip, though. The first day McGuinness was there, Minnesota lived up to its reputation with a brisk February day. But the next day, it was about 50 degrees outside.

The warmer weather was a pleasant surprise for McGuinness. So, too, was the reaction of many Minnesotans.

“It was beautiful,” McGuinness said. “Everyone was outside.”

The environment that McGuinness called outdoor and friendly was one of the reasons why he and his team selected Minneapolis to host the X Games in 2017 and 2018, its athletes competing in skateboarding, BMX and motocross.

U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in July 2016, provided the biggest draw. The new building’s layout made it appealing. McGuinness said it allows the X Games to put most competitions under the same roof. The plaza outside also provides a space for X-fest and music. Flume, Atmosphere, and A Day To Remember are the three music groups that will perform.

“The facility is amazing,” McGuinness said.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

McGuinness also likes its location and its proximity to the center of the city.

“It is very easy to get here and draw a good crowd,” he said.

Events will also be held at Medtronic Plaza, Downtown East Commons and the Mall of America.

Minneapolis residents provided more justification for the X Games to come to the city for two years. McGuinness cited the young demographic, the energy of the city and the culture as to why they selected Minneapolis.

“There is definitely a young vibe and a very creative vibe here,” McGuinness said. “Our DNA taps into that.”

McGuinness described the X Games as more than an action-sports event. He considers it a youth festival, celebrating music, art, film, photography, technology and of course action sports. It’s all part of the X Games experience.

And the Minneapolis experience awaiting X Games fans has not simply been created by outsiders. The X Games marketing team has consulted with Alec Majerus, a professional skateboarder from Rochester who’ll be competing. The 22-year-old provided assistance to the X Games before it was officially announced it would come to Minneapolis. Majerus helped them understand the skating scene as well as delivered them to the proper contacts. That includes the top skate shops in the region.

″(The marketing team) has developed a great relationship with him,” McGuinness said.

Still, the X Games faces a challenge in bringing in fans. The X Games has never stopped in the Midwest. It also is competing for sports fans in a market where all major sports leagues have a team.

McGuinness said he isn’t worried, though. He expects the X Games product to speak for itself.

“The fact that you never know what you are going to see is appealing and it sets us apart,” McGuinness said. “I think it is not only the sporting event. It is much more than that. It is a whole festival.”

The X Games’ success in 2017 will play a significant role in determining the success of the 2018 X Games, McGuinness said. But if the people he interacted with each time he visited in the past 18 months are any indication, he expects the X Games to be well received.

“As of right now, we are feeling pretty good about it,” McGuinness said.