April 04, 2019 10:35 PM
College basketball fans are arriving in Minnesota for the Final Four.
The airport was busy on Thursday as fans arrived to cheer on Michigan State, Virginia, Auburn and Texas Tech in the national semifinals this Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The national championship game is Monday night.
"I hopped on a plane from Austin, Texas this afternoon and found myself in Minneapolis," Texas Tech fan Matt Beatty said.
For Beatty, it's a chance to watch the Red Raiders make history in their first Final Four appearance.
"We're hoping to win the title, we came here to win," he said. "Texas Tech has had a rough run when it comes to the basketball program. For us to win the championship would do things for our community and our team and our school that have never been done before."
Anticipation is building in Minneapolis. Officials said it is a vastly different experience from 1992 and 2001, the last two times the city hosted the event.
This time, they anticipate 94,000 to 130,000 people downtown over the weekend. And crews were putting the final touches in place along Nicolet Mall on Thursday.
"This is just part of what makes the Final Four unique," said Noah Rouen with the local operating committee. "It's a great way to experience the Final Four in ways that you don't need a ticket and a great way to showcase downtown and the city."
The free Tip-Off Tailgate kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday, featuring Ferris wheel rides and concerts.
"There's pep rallies, there's selfie stations, there's refreshments," Rouen said. "It's just a great way to be part of the action."
At the Minneapolis Convention Center, Fan Fest will feature games, autograph signings and the event's largest NCAA merchandise shop. Doors open at 11 a.m. Friday. Children are admitted free while adult tickets cost $10.
The coveted championship trophy is also on display, which Michigan State fans hope to reclaim.
Fans get their first glimpse of the teams playing on Friday during practices at U.S. Bank Stadium. The doors open at 10 a.m. and admission is free.
Updated: April 04, 2019 10:35 PM
Created: April 04, 2019 09:31 PM
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