Among the announced 15,922 fans at Target Center for the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday was Diane Turnham, a member of the NCAA's Women's Basketball Committee, in town to assess Minneapolis' bid to host a women's Final Four.
And she was impressed.
"This city is certainly appealing to us,'' said Turnham, the senior associate athletic director at Middle Tennessee State.
Members of the committee — which also selects the yearly tournament field — are looking to award Final Fours for 2021, '22, '23 and '24. Minneapolis, which held the women's Final Four at Target Center in 1995, is among seven finalists for one of those bids, along with Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Kansas City and Cleveland.
Sports Minneapolis, the sports event planning team at Meet Minneapolis, made sure to schedule Turnham's visit around All-Star weekend. "I'm the envy of the committee right now,'' Turnham joked.
But seriously: Turnham said Minneapolis and Target Center are contenders because of the proximity of host hotels to the venue, the ability for fans to take light rail into downtown and the nearby convention center.
And then there is the support for women's basketball in the area.
"You guys have a great tradition here, especially with the WNBA program,'' she said. "So we felt like we knew that already. Now we get to see it live and in person.''
Turnham said the bids should be announced by early October at the latest.