St. Paul Winter Carnival organizers say they’re looking at building an ice palace that could cost $2 million to $15 million at the State Capitol in 2018.
“We’re working on the possibility,” Winter Carnival spokeswoman Stacy Bee said Tuesday. “Nothing is concrete.”
Reacting to published reports of a $15 million, privately funded palace in the works, Bee said that number would be on the high end of a range of options.
“It could be $2 million. It could be $3 million,” she said of a palace, adding that the size depends on the fundraising response. “At the end of the day, the community’s going to decide how much they want us to build something like this.”
The St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, a private organization, runs the Winter Carnival. Bee declined to say how much money has been raised for a castle thus far, but she said she expects a decision on whether it will be built and how big it will be “within the next 30 to 60 days.”
Footings for the castle would have to be laid in November with ice cut in December, she said, adding that no arrangements have been finalized.
The most recent palace was built in 2004 across from the Xcel Energy Center, where the NHL All-Star Game was played. The construction of the 2018 castle would coincide with the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is not connected to or coordinating with the Winter Carnival.
The carnival built a palace the last time the Super Bowl was in Minnesota, in 1992, and things didn’t go well. Although 2.5 million people visited the palace on Harriet Island across from downtown St. Paul, police overtime bills and unexpected street damage created cost overruns of $600,000. The nonprofit foundation almost went bankrupt.
Carnival organizers are hoping to capitalize on Super Bowl excitement. The game will be played Feb. 4, 2018, after nine days of concerts, events and parties.
Super Bowl organizers expect attendance over 10 days to be 1 million. Their estimated economic impact to the region is $400 million. The Super Bowl has 16 official events with at least 100 more private parties.
The Winter Carnival runs from Jan. 25 through Feb. 10. The carnival claims to draw 250,000 visitors to various events including parades and royalty parties.
The celebration of winter in St. Paul fits with the “Bold North” theme of Super Bowl LII. A picturesque palace against the backdrop of Cass Gilbert’s renovated state Capitol could be a photogenic draw for visitors — unless it’s warm and the ice melts.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s spokesman Ben Petok said of the effort, “The city of St. Paul is supportive of the private efforts to raise an ice palace at the Capitol.”
Staff writer Jessie Van Berkel contributed to this report.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747