Super Bowl festivities create obstacle for downtown workers

The incoming influx of people and traffic for the Super Bowl means some people are planning to work from home, but for others avoiding downtown Minneapolis isn’t an option.

At the Birchwood Dental Office located along Nicollet Mall, partners in the practice decided being open for the week leading up to the Super Bowl won't be worth the frustration.

“We get down here early to avoid rush hour and leave early to avoid rush hour,” said Dr. John Evenson, a dentist at the office. “With the Super Bowl coming, it's going to quadruple the problem.” 

Dr. Evenson says his office isn't the only one in the Medical Arts Building closing ahead of the big game. 

“They never gave us an option, what are we supposed to do?” said Bobbie Jo Nichols-Cook, an employee of the Hennepin County Jail for 12 years.

Government employees, like Nichols-Cook, don't have the luxury of not coming into downtown for work. They are furious the City of Minneapolis is not honoring contract parking at eight municipal lots on Super Bowl Sunday. 

“There's probably like two dozen of us between licensed staff and deputies who are going to be affected,” said Nichols-Cook. 

Back during the bidding process to get the Super Bowl to Minneapolis, the NFL requested 35,000 free parking spaces on game day within a mile of the stadium for fans, staff and employees.

Now, people are being referred to in order to prepay parking. A parking spot closest to the stadium costs $100 and everyone in the vehicle must have a Super Bowl ticket. That one spot costs $10 more than Nichols-Cook pays per month for her contract parking.

“We don’t know, we just want to do our jobs and don’t know how we are going to get here,” she said.

As employees try to figure out carpools and any alternatives, others Fox 9 spoke to who have contract parking aren't phased, saying they don't need their spot anyway. 

“It's Super Bowl, there is going to a lot of things affected - no big deal,” said Kevin McCarthy, who works downtown and doesn’t use his contract parking spot on Sundays. 

Either way Dr. Evenson believes temporarily closing is a win-win for his staff and patients. 

“We'll cheer from home,” he said.

Fox 9 asked the City of Minneapolis about residents who rely on contract parking or making exceptions for government employees who need to work Super Bowl Sunday. On a typical Sunday municipal ramps average less than three percent capacity with contract parkers. However, city officials said exceptions will not be made.