April 05, 2018 10:20 PM
Minneapolis just finished hosting the Super Bowl, but the city is now gearing up for another major sporting event.
Next April, the men's NCAA college basketball Final Four is at U.S. Bank Stadium.
This week, the host committee returned home from Texas, where the 2018 Final Four took place in San Antonio.
Organizers said they learned so much about everything that goes into the event, including public safety, stadium operations, volunteer programs and much more.
This is the fourth Final Four Minneapolis will host; the last one was in 2001 at the Metrodome.
"We're really excited about showing the nation and the world what a Minneapolis Final Four feels like," said Kate Mortenson, president and CEO of the Minnesota Sports Corporation and Minneapolis Final Four Local Organizing Committee.
Mortenson is leading the team in charge of the organizing committee for the 2019 Final Four. She's been to the last four host cities to prepare for Minnesota's other moment.
"They feel different in every city," Mortenson said.
Since 2001, a lot has changed in the Twin Cities. One of the most notable, of course, is a new stadium.
"We're really a new city," Mortenson said. "But this is also very much a new event."
Three games will be played inside a transformed U.S. Bank Stadium, but Mortenson says there are plenty of free or low-cost associated events. Those events include a chance to see the four teams during an open shoot-around on Friday; a fan festival with autographs and interactive games; a children's basketball parade; plus three days of live music at an outdoor venue.
"I am still amazed every year at the mammoth and exciting size of this event and how inclusive it is," Mortenson said.
One of those locations that will surely attract a big crowd: Nicollet Mall.
"It felt like the busiest three days we've ever had," said Tim Wurtz, manager at The Local, about Super Bowl weekend. "I'm sure it was."
"The Super Bowl just gave us a playbook to go by for something like that," he added. "These events really highlight what we're built for."
Organizers expect a crowd similar to the number that arrived to the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl. Mortenson said that thanks to key investments in the community, no matter what the sport, the city knows how to show off.
"This is a new opportunity where every couple years we could be welcoming the larger world to Minnesota," she said. "It's a really exciting thing to be a part of."
The Super Bowl came with its share of road closures. Mortenson says she doesn't anticipate it being as bad for the Final Four.
In June, the NCAA starts coming into town for monthly meetings. Three thousand volunteers are needed for the event; visit http://www.finalfourminneapolis.com/volunteer/ to sign up.
Updated: April 05, 2018 10:20 PM
Created: April 05, 2018 08:27 PM
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