Minneapolis soon finds out if it needs to keep its sporting event red carpet clean through the entire decade. An NCAA Final Four, should it be awarded to the Twin Cities on Friday afternoon, would join the 2016 Ryder Cup and 2018 Super Bowl on a packed late-decade sports calendar.
Minneapolis is one of eight cities competing for the right to host one of four men’s basketball Final Fours — the 2017 through 2020 events will be awarded — and the announcement from the NCAA will be televised live at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
The Meet Minneapolis civic group is leading the city’s bid, and the steering committee presented its final pitch to the NCAA men’s basketball committee Tuesday in Indianapolis.
“Our presentation went off flawlessly,” Michele Kelm-Helgen, steering committee spokeswoman and Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman, told the Star Tribune on Tuesday afternoon. “We presented everything we wanted to in the way we wanted it to be presented. The committee seemed to react positively. Obviously, we won’t know until Friday.”
The steering committee is specifically bidding for three years, 2018-20, taking into consideration the expected fall 2016 completion of the new Vikings stadium, which will host a Super Bowl in February 2018. The Ryder Cup, coming to Hazeltine in Chaska in 2016, is the next major sporting event with worldwide interest to hit a market that only recently finished celebrating the hosting of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.
If a Final Four is awarded to the Twin Cities, the hectic major-event schedule will be reminiscent of 1991, when in one whirlwind 11-month period Minnesota was host to the NHL Finals, the U.S. Open golf tournament, the World Series, the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four. In the words of a New York Times columnist, the Twin Cities was “the sports capital of the United States.”
This stretch wouldn’t approach that level unless local teams win through their playoffs. But a Final Four would be an impressive third feather in the sports cap.
The seven other cities in the running for the four Final Fours are New Orleans, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio and St. Louis.
On Friday at 5 p.m., Meet Minneapolis’ leaders — Kelm-Helgen, University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague, Meet Minneapolis CEO Melvin Tennant and co-chairs David Mortenson, president of Mortenson Construction, and Mary Brainard, the president and CEO of Health Partners — will gather at the University of Minnesota and take questions from the media, regardless of the decision.
“We’re inviting all the people who worked on the bid to watch it together, and so one way or another, we certainly will have a bit of a celebration,” Kelm-Helgen said.