Yes, it's really happening. There's nothing you can do about it now. Super Bowl LII, and the week of parties and corporate hobnobbing leading up to it, absolutely and positively will be held in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
It's a region stocked with natural beauty, great schools and a major corporate presence. But in January and February? It's cold. The sun goes down early and rises late. You betcha. (People don't actually say that in Minnesota, but old stereotypes die hard.)
You don't have a choice, so why not make the best of it? We Minnesotans do. We've invited Idina Menzel to sing "Let it Go" from the movie "Frozen" to kick off local festivities Friday. We've built skyways to stroll large expanses while indoors. We drill through the ice to fish in the winter. We've gotten pretty good at plowing the roads.
Here's everything viewers and visitors need to know about Super Bowl LII -- beyond the matchup -- and about the area local organizers call the Bold North.
If you're watching from home
Kickoff is when? Sunday, Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can watch it on NBC.
The halftime performer is: Justin Timberlake. P!nk will sing the national anthem, while Leslie Odom Jr. will perform "America the Beautiful."
If you're going to the game
Here are some fast facts about U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which opened in 2016.
Capacity: About 65,000 for the Super Bowl.
It's shaped like ... a Viking ship? Yes, that was part of the design effort from HKS Architects, which also planned the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium and the Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium. Its sloped roof reaches nearly 30 stories tall at its high point.
Unique feature: About 60 percent of the roof is made up of a clear polymer known as ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE). It allows the game to feel like it's being played outdoors -- without extreme temperatures of course.
That's too bad. Fresh air is nice. To be fair: On nice days, the Vikings open five doors, each 95-feet tall, on the west side of the stadium. It's ... pleasant. (Don't worry. The doors will be sealed shut for the Super Bowl.)
It cost $1.13 billion to build, which is a lot for a football stadium, but ... the stadium is owned and operated by the state of Minnesota and used year-round for local activities. It hosted, for instance, more than 140 early-season college baseball games in 2017. The concourse is open to the public on some winter nights for jogging and rollerblading. More than 1.6 million people visited, for one reason or another, in its first 12 months. Gov. Mark Dayton has nicknamed it "The People's Stadium."
Minnesota for dummies
How cold is it, actually? The average high temperature in January is 22 degrees.
But it gets colder than that. The average low for the last week in January is 8 degrees. Minnesotans divide winter temperatures into two categories: It's either cold enough to freeze the snot in your nose, or it isn't.
Twin Cities? Yes. We're very particular about that. (Sometimes we refer to them as "the cities" as opposed to the smaller towns "up north.") U.S. Bank Stadium is located in Minneapolis, population 413,000. Just 12 miles east is the capital city of St. Paul, population 302,000. (Monday's opening night festivities will take place there, at the Xcel Energy Center, where the NHL's Wild play.) We don't like to offend the people of one city by saying too many nice things about the other. It all goes back to the mid-1800s, when settlers competing for land raced in both directions from St. Anthony Falls.
Is that an example of 'Minnesota Nice'? If you say so. Minnesota Nice is the unofficial state motto. It has vague Scandinavian origins and multiple connotations. For some, it implies that we are nice to everyone. For others, it means we are nice ... until you walk away. We can be passive-aggressive sometimes, but not a lot ... but you probably know best, since you're a big-timer from out east.
On that 10,000-lake thing. At last count, we had 11,842 lakes within state lines. Go big or go home.
Jesse Ventura was once the governor. That really happened. From 1999 until 2003. His most memorable achievement was to require reporters who covered the state government to wear credentials that referred to them as "Jackals."
How Minnesotans have a good time in the cold
We tout the Mall of America, built on the site of the old Metropolitan Stadium. More than 40 million people, many of them tourists, annually visit what's known around here as "MOA." Why travel to Minnesota to visit a really big mall? In part because Minnesota does not tax apparel or shoes. (It gets ya on everything else, though, with a sales tax of 7.775 percent in Minneapolis and 6.875 percent elsewhere.) MOA is surrounded by more than two dozen hotels, including two that are attached that will be used by the Patriots and Eagles this week. It's big enough to house radio row and the Super Bowl media center. And what better way to spend a subzero weekend than riding indoor roller coasters under glass ceilings at MOA's Nickelodeon Universe?
We drink Caribou Coffee. Yup. You'll find 2.5 times more of these Minnesota-themed (and based) coffee shops (212) than Starbucks (82) throughout the state.
We fish on some of the 5,500 suitable lakes and 18,000 miles of rivers and streams. The ice is thick in the winter. That's a good thing. You can drive on it, put down stakes for warming huts and proceed. We've got walleye, northern pike, muskies and more.
We probably work at one of 29 Fortune 500 companies based here, including Target, Best Buy, U.S. Bancorp and United Health.
We stroll the eight miles of skyways in downtown Minneapolis, which include connections to the convention center (site of the NFL's Super Bowl Experience), Target Center (where the NBA's Timberwolves and WNBA's Lynx play) and U.S. Bank Stadium.
We play pull-tab games at our local bar. Nothing too crazy. And it's OK to throw them on the floor when you're done!
We put on a parka and go outside. You can too! We've built an 800-foot zip line across the (partially frozen) Mississippi River for Super Bowl week. You can visit the St. Paul Winter Carnival, which features an ice sculpture garden. Or you can utilize some of the 200 miles of bike trails throughout the metro area. (Biking in the summer, hiking in the winter.)
We tout famous people connected to us. Timberlake, for instance, will perform the halftime show. He's married to actress Jessica Biel. She was born in Ely, Minnesota. Paisley Park, the home and recording studio of the late and legendary musician Prince, is now open for tours.
We embrace our sing-song accents. Watch "Fargo." The Coen brothers (from Minnesota!) nailed it. Everything but the wood chipper.
We attend sporting events at one of nearly a dozen different professional and college facilities, for which we have spent roughly $2 billion on over the past two decades. During a stadium debate in 1976, Hubert Humphrey warned that Minnesota would be a "cold Omaha" without sports. There's no chance of that now. In the past two decades, we have built or renovated ballparks for the Twins (Target Field), St. Paul Saints (CHS Field) and the University of Minnesota (Siebert Field). The Wild (Xcel Energy Center) and Timberwolves and Lynx (Target Center) have their own new(er) facilities. So do the Vikings and University of Minnesota football (TCF Bank Stadium). College hockey, played at the legendary Mariucci Arena, is a big deal here. And coming in 2019: Allianz Field, for MLS's Minnesota United FC.
Didn't you say something about parties earlier? Yep. Here's a sampling of some that'll be in and around Minneapolis:
Playboy: Feb. 3 at Prive nightclub, featuring Snoop Dogg
Rolling Stone: Feb. 2 at International Market Square, featuring Migos
Maxim: Feb. 3 at 360 Super Dome, featuring Post Malone and DJ Marshmello
Nomadic Live: Feb. 1 and 2 at Minneapolis Armory, featuring Imagine Dragons and P!nk
Mystic Lake Casino: Feb. 3, featuring The Chainsmokers, Kygo, Gwen Stefani and Florida Georgia Line