Minnesota Worlds Fair? Backers press for dollars, help

Twin Cities business and political leaders are trying to drum up support — and cash — to bring a World’s Fair to Minnesota in 2023.

Backers of the bid say a World’s Fair would put Minnesota on a global stage and bring in millions of tourists and their money.

Some big hurdles remain. Congress won’t pay the $25,000 in annual dues to the Bureau of International Exhibitions, the Paris-based group that sanctions the World’s Fair, making it harder to get approval for events in the United States. Also, the last U.S. World’s Fair, New Orleans in 1984, failed to draw the hoped-for crowds and ended in bankruptcy.

Twin Cities fair promoters, though, remain undeterred. They’re pushing to raise as much as $2 million to make the formal bid by the end of next year.

A World’s Fair would be “a way for Minnesota to both welcome the world to come visit and find out who we are, and for us to learn from and be part of and see others from all over the planet,” said outgoing Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who is leading the effort along with former Carlson Companies CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelson and former Vice President Walter Mondale as honorary co-chairs.

Ritchie said he doesn’t yet have a cost estimate for the event but that some sort of public-private partnership will be necessary. He’s been touting the potential economic benefits and estimates as many as 15 million visitors would come, including up to 4 million from overseas.

 

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