Minneapolis will join a shortlist of American cities to host four NCAA Final Four men’s basketball championships when the event comes to U.S. Bank Stadium in 2019.
The logo for the 2019 Final Four unveiled Friday morning reflects that elite status as well as Minnesota’s natural resources with four stars twinkling over a row of four trees. A stream of blue represents the mighty Mississippi. The logo’s outline mirrors the distinctive silhouette of U.S. Bank Stadium.
The logo unveiling marks the official start of Final Four preparations. Minneapolis previously played host to the Final Four in 1951, 1992, 2001.
Kate Mortenson, CEO and president of the Minneapolis Final Four Local Organizing Committee, said the tournament presents a “terrific opportunity to showcase Minnesota to the rest of the world.”
Gov. Mark Dayton, Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino, NCAA officials, University of Minnesota cheerleaders, Goldy Gopher and schoolchildren from Elizabeth Hall School all joined the Final Four pep fest Friday at the North Commons Recreation Center.
Much like the 2018 Super Bowl organizing committee, Mortenson and her crew will organize community and philanthropic events, with an emphasis on youth, education, diversity and inclusion. They’ll also promote Minneapolis and its amenities, emphasizing the city’s reputation for being a great basketball town for players and fans alike.
Minneapolis is one of only about a dozen cities nationwide that can host the Final Four with an enclosed stadium that seats 70,000 in a cosmopolitan setting, Mortenson said. The goal is to host the tournament several times more, she said.
NCAA leaders said they selected Minneapolis because of its new venue, ample hotels and convention space, transportation options and vibrant downtown life.
Mortenson identified the committee’s first major philanthropic effort during the logo reveal.
The NCAA, collaborating with the host committee, will refurbish the outdoor basketball courts at North Commons Recreation Center for its Legacy Restoration project.
The park has a long history of community and sports with the first basketball hoops being installed there in 1908.
Other mainstays of the Final Four hosting experience will include Fan Fest, which attracts more than 50,000 visitors; the March Madness Music Festival, which features three days of urban, pop, and country music; and the Final Four Dribble, where a parade of thousands of children, teens and adults will dribble basketballs down the street.
Minneapolis is now one of eight cities to host four or more times.
The other cities are Kansas City, Indianapolis, New York, Louisville, New Orleans, Seattle and San Antonio.