Final Four will leave lasting impact on north Minneapolis rec center

April 02, 2019 08:58 PM

Long after the games are played at the Final Four in Minneapolis, one community will continue see the benefits of the event.

It's part of the Final Four Legacy Project.


Those who have lived in these communities for decades know just how special this project is. And, thanks to it, those at the North Commons Park Rec Center will benefit for years to come.

"It's really the heartbeat of the community," said Al Bangoura, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board Superintendent. 

On Tuesday, kids and their families saw the new and improved version of the gym. Each year, the NCAA supports a legacy restoration project in the Final Four host city.

"It's important for the NCAA to invest in the community that houses our championships," said Ellen Lucey, with the NCAA. 

Some of those upgrades include new backboards, rims, court, and a youth inspired mural.

"When I started here 29 years ago it wasn't this way," said Willie B. Jasper, who works at the North Commons Park Rec Center. 

If anyone knows the history of this building, it's Willie B. Jasper, who was overcome with emotion when recognized for her work here. 

"This moment brings so much joy to my heart," Jasper said. 

"It changed lives, it changed my life," said Marshelle Keys, who came to the ribbon-cutting with her son. "I love seeing him out here playing because he was so anti-social, so to see him open up and this is where it started for him, I'm happy."

Generations of families have called this space home, and will continue to do so. But, as former NBA player and Minnesotan Devean George knows best, it's not just about basketball. 

"This is more than just a gym, this is a safe haven for a lot of kids in the community," said George. "It's special to me because I've seen where this was and where it's at now, and I know what this gym has done for me over the years."

The company who did the art mural and the primary contractor are both based in north Minneapolis. 

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Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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