LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - As the Minnesota Vikings advance in the playoffs and the Super Bowl approaches, excitement for the big football game at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis grows, and one La Crosse company will play a unique role in this year's event.
As the official hot dog provider for the U.S. Bank Stadium, Bakalars Sausage Company in La Crosse is also the official hot dog provider for the 2018 Super Bowl.
It is esimated that more than 1 million people will travel to Minnesota for the game, and the visitors’ bureau is encouraging them to get a taste of La Crosse.
"I think everyone thinks about the Super Bowl, no matter if you're a fan or not,” said Brent Hanifl, Explore La Crosse media and marketing director. “It's just great that it's in our own backyard."
Hanifl wants to highlight what La Crosse, located about 150 miles from this year's Super Bowl, has to offer.
"We know there's a big influx in the (Twin) Cities. We will be doing a social media campaign and digital media advertising to folks in the (Twin) Cities to potentially come back and experience La Crosse,” he said.
While Hanifl hopes visitors travel from the Twin Cities to La Crosse, certain La Crosse-made hot dogs have tickets to the hottest game of the year.
"It's a great opportunity to showcase our products,” Bakalars Sausage Company President Mike Bakalars said.
Bakalars said the company sends about 600,000 hotdogs to U.S. Bank Stadium each year.
"It's a big honor for us to be a part of that,” he said.
The company sells between 30,000 and 35,000 hotdogs at a typical game, and it is now beefing up its production.
"We're looking at a 20 percent increase for the week of the Super Bowl,” Bakalars said. "That formulation won a silver medal at the international sausages competition."
Schweigert-brand franks are on their way to the 2018 Super Bowl, perhaps along with U.S. Bank Stadium's home team.
"It looks like they have as good of a shot as anybody,” Bakalars said.
Frankly, the Vikings aren't his first choice, but he doesn't mind Minnesota taking the spotlight
"Well, I'm a Packer fan, historically,” he said. "I'm just a fan of sports in general. It's neat to be a part of that."
Bakalars has been the official hot dog for the Vikings for two years, and just renewed its contract for another five years. The company also provides hot dogs for the Minnesota Twins.
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