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Super Bowl not so super for Red Wing

Red Wing Regional Airport on a snowy day in January. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Red Wing Regional Airport and the beautiful bluffs that surround it. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

As Minnesotans manage their disappointment over the Vikings' loss last weekend, a silver lining for some is the economic impact that many out-of-town visitors will have on the region.

But will the Super Bowl surplus ripple out into Red Wing? So far, signs point to no.

Air traffic

Due to the additional air traffic anticipated around the Super Bowl, the Federal Aviation Administration has put a reservation system in place which limits the number of aircraft that can arrive and depart from Red Wing between Friday, Feb. 2 and Monday, Feb 5.

Red Wing Regional Airport caretaker and fixed base operator Tom Blue said that this kind of system is rarely seen in the region and hasn't been implemented in Red Wing since the 2008 Republican National Convention took place in St. Paul.

So far, Blue said, no airplanes have requested to charter through Red Wing to attend the Super Bowl, but his regular traffic customers are using the system out of necessity.

"It's nuisance because we've gone through webinars, training, everything for this reservation system," Blue said. "We've even had a couple airport board meetings talking about it and everybody expected something different. I think we're just a little bit out of the range of the cities to have a major impact."

Red Wing is also at a slight disadvantage because there isn't indoor hangar storage for large airplanes to park. Blue notes this is common for airplanes, even in the Twin Cities, but Red Wing has the additional wrinkle of not being equipped with a de-icing facility.


Another way Red Wing has hoped to capture the zeitgeist is by hosting Twin Cities residents looking to get away from Super Bowl traffic. In that respect, it's looking to be "business as usual" for the local hospitality industry as well. Most hotels and bed and breakfasts are operating at normal capacity for the season.

Marilyne Bouteiller, director of sales and marketing at the St. James Hotel, said her hospitality colleagues 20 miles out of the cities still aren't filled up. At 50 miles away, she said, Red Wing is just not seeing the impact.

"People may have not made their decision yet," Bouteiller explained. "We're two weeks out and people have the tendency to wait until the last minute."