The Minneapolis NCAA Final Four’s “Fan Jam” truck started rolling Friday with hoops built for dunking.
In the months leading up to the big tournament finale, the truck will be driven around Minnesota, spending lots of time in Minneapolis, to generate excitement for basketball, health and fitness.
The truck comes with several hoops, including three well below the 10-foot height that college teams use. At 4 feet and 8 feet, they can give even those with unimpressive verticals a feel for the above-the-rim game.
Local organizing committee operations chief Cydni Bickerstaff showed off the newly painted truck with its shiny blue-green ombre cab and giant Final Four logo at its reveal Thursday outside the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena.
With a giant inflatable basketball standing beside it, the truck will be highly visible at various events in coming weeks. Those who stop by can pose with a replica of the 2019 championship trophy and have the photo sent directly to their e-mail or phone. There’s a basketball video game and numerous prizes, the low hoops and some pop-a-shot nets along with the occasional celebrity guest.
With three dozen stops planned already and many more in the works, the goal is to get the community excited for a sports event that has exploded in scope and popularity since it was last here in 2001.
The men’s basketball Final Four is the biggest NCAA event and the culminating weekend of the March Madness tournament. The semifinal and final games will be played April 6 and April 8 at the stadium. Similar to Super Bowl LII, there will be festivities attached to the games, including a family-friendly fan festival and free outdoor concerts.
Bickerstaff wants to get the word out to kids and their parents about the free events, including access to U.S. Bank Stadium for team shootarounds on Friday and a scrimmage with high-profile players. Famous players and coaches will be all over downtown in the days before the event.
The Fan Jam vehicle has stops planned in all 13 Minneapolis City Council wards and at least 10 in St. Paul as well. The truck also will visit the suburbs, exurbs and greater Minnesota.
The traveling starts immediately. The truck will be at the MYAS basketball tournament in Farmington on Saturday, then back to Minneapolis Sunday for Open Streets Lyndale. Other upcoming stops in June include the Northeast Parade in Minneapolis, the Special Olympics at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Pride Fest at Loring Park and the Uptown Food Truck Festival.