Supersized ice palace planned for Super Bowl
ST. PAUL — A supersized ice palace is being planned for the 2018 St. Paul Winter Carnival — to coincide with the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis — and west central Minnesota is likely to play a big role.
The $15 million structure is expected to be built on the grounds of the state Capitol, according to a presentation at the annual meeting of the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, which oversees the annual Winter Carnival.
The details of the planned ice palace were announced by David Crary, co-chair of the foundation's Ice Palace Committee. He didn't say how high the palace would be but hopes it will exceed the 163-foot height of the 1992 palace, built at Harriet Island to coincide with Super Bowl XXVI at the Metrodome.
"The Super Bowl will be in Minneapolis, but the fun will be in St. Paul," Crary said. "We are going to show off how Minnesota celebrates winter."
A first look at the designer's drawings was given to the crowd of about 120 people at the meeting. The designers have envisioned a palace with slim, graceful spires — a departure from the stocky, pitched-roof designs of years past.
"It looks like Superman's Fortress of Solitude," said Pat Cosgrove, a former member of the King's Guard of the Winter Carnival Vulcans.
Vulcanus Rex, aka David Breen, approved.
"There is no better time to do this right than when we are on the world stage," he said.
Minnesota Public Radio reported in May that the state Legislature approved building the ice palace near the Capitol using only private donations — no taxpayer money.
Those private donations are going to be harder than ever to raise, Crary said.
Corporations were generous when the 2004 ice palace was built across from the Xcel Energy Center, he said. But since the Great Recession, they have tightened their belts.
That ice palace was built almost entirely with volunteer labor, he said. But the recession wiped out many construction-industry jobs — exactly the kind of volunteer that the ice palace depended on, Crary said.
"The world has changed in the past 14 years," Crary said.
But the biggest challenge of all will be the weather.
More than any other outdoor project, an ice palace requires ideal conditions — consistent cold with little or no snow.
Work will begin Dec. 15, he said. Workers will be getting ice from the nearest place that can guarantee 12-inch thickness: Detroit Lakes.
Crary cautioned against over-optimism. A single midwinter thaw can wreck the palace, and even a routine blizzard can delay work on the project.
The 2018 Winter Carnival will be seven days longer than usual — from Jan. 25 to Feb. 10. Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium will be held on Feb. 4.