Super Bowl Live

Nicollet Mall hosts the big event outside of the Big Event—with a special focus on Prince

People getting their picture taken inside the walk-in snow globe at Super Bowl LIVE.

Rendering of the walk-in snow globe at Super Bowl Live

photo courtesy Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee

Super Bowl Live 1/26–2/4

NFL jerseys encased inside huge ice sculptures will rise up like the ghosts of football’s past; NBC and ESPN commentators will buzz about their IDS Center hive; and music’s biggest players will trade shifts—all on Nicollet Mall, when six blocks of the reopened downtown stretch transform into a frozen entertainment hot spot. Befitting our “Bold North” stamp on the game (a riff on Minnesota’s bid to dub our region “North” instead of “Midwest”), colorful, sky-searching lights will imitate the Aurora Borealis, and a giant football-shaped walk-in snow globe will bait selfie takers.

One state hallmark, and national treasure, we’ll have to go without, though. Prince’s halftime performance during the 2007 Miami Super Bowl—when a downpour tried to interrupt “Purple Rain” and prompted a producer to ask if the singer was OK, to which he responded, “Can you make it rain harder?”—was arguably the best the sport has seen. The late paisley Jack of Spades can’t attend the big home game, but his passing has inspired early collaborators and storied local producers Jimmy “Jam” Harris and Terry Lewis to reflect on what they’d like to accomplish before they go—and it involves bumping the spotlight onto more Minnesota talent.

For all of the 10 days that Nicollet Mall hosts Super Bowl Live, the duo will curate a concert series of homegrown artists braving the weather alongside national names. In the ’80s, the pair helped shuffle the Minneapolis Sound into the Top 40 and clothed Janet Jackson in her synth-pop trappings (way before her over-publicized wardrobe malfunction bungled Justin Timberlake’s first halftime attempt in 2004). As former members of the pioneering Minneapolis funk band The Time, Harris and Lewis are the ambassadors the city deserves. Show up purple on January 29 for a set devoted wholly to Prince.