Tickets to the Final Four games are running $250 on up, while free tickets to this weekend’s March Madness Music Series at the Armory in downtown Minneapolis were sorely limited and have long since been claimed.
What else can you do if you want to take part in the festivities? Here are five options for Final Four hangers-on, including a concert by a well-known touring band that’s open to everyone on Monday before the championship game.
Final Four Fan Fest
What: Similar to the (way more expensive) Super Bowl Experience at the same venue last winter, it features a sprawl of basketball-related games, displays and activities, including clinics and autograph sessions, along with other sports to-dos, including a Home Run Derby.
When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.-Mon.
Where: Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Av. S.
Admission: $10 adults, $5 seniors (60-plus), students and military, free for 12 and under. Tickets available at the door.
More info: ncaa.com/final-four/fan-fest.
Best for: Families and die-hard sports fans.
Final Four Tip-off Tailgate Party
What: A free festival on the Nicollet Mall offering games, team rallies, a Ferris wheel, a little live music and food (by Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Buffalo Wild Wings and more). Los Angeles soul-pop dance band Fitz & the Tantrums, a favorite at the annual Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis, plays there at 6 p.m. Monday, right before the big game.
When: 4-10 p.m. Fri., 2-10 p.m. Sat., 2-8 p.m. Sun., 2 p.m.-midnight Mon.
Where: Nicollet Mall between 8th and 12th Sts., Mpls.
More info: ncaa.com/final-four/tip-off-tailgate.
Best for: Casual basketball fans, nightlife seekers, admirers of gray concrete or anyone looking for fun downtown.
Final Four Friday
What: A free chance to see the Final Four court at U.S. Bank Stadium and practice sessions by the four competing teams, along with a college all-star game and a contest by cancer survivors.
When: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fri.; Heroes Game 10:20 a.m.; autographs 1-2 p.m.; All-Star Game 3:35 p.m.
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, 401 Chicago Av. S.
More info: ncaa.com/reeses-final-four-friday.
Best for: Other basketball die-hards and anyone who hasn’t been inside our $1 billion stadium yet ($1.1 billion counting modifications for the Final Four).
What: The megamall is courting tourists with this free contest featuring men’s college basketball players competing three-on-three for $150,000 in prizes on a court in the mall rotunda. Also, look for the Basketball Championship Superstore with game-related merchandise and a Wheaties Wall featuring past Final Four winners.
When: Mall hours Fri.-Mon. Games start at 2 p.m. Fri., 8:30 a.m. Sat., 9:30 a.m. Sun. and 2 p.m. Mon.
Where: Mall of America, Bloomington.
Best for: Families; people who want to avoid downtown Minneapolis but not crowds and parking garages; Hooters regulars.
What: If nothing else, there’s always the local bar. Watering holes around town will show the Final Four games on TV, and many are gearing up with special drinks and menu items.
When: Semifinal games 2 & 4:45 p.m. Sat., final 9 p.m. Mon.
Where: Popular sports bars in downtown Minneapolis include Erik the Red, Cowboy Jack’s, Brit’s Pub, Kieran’s, the Pourhouse, Brothers, the Depot Tavern, the Loon Cafe, 8th Street Grill, Lyon’s Pub, Rock Bottom Brewery, Stadium Bar & Grill, Crooked Pint, Sneaky Pete’s, the Local and City Works.
Best for: Fans of basketball and alcohol. The latter can take advantage of increased public transit and ride-share offerings in Minneapolis around the games.