Minneapolis rolling out red carpet for Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament

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Big Ten Tournament offers boost to Minneapolis

The Big Ten Women’s basketball tournament in Minneapolis this week is sold out with more than 100,000 fans expected to attend, and surrounding businesses are pleased with the expected boost in foot traffic.

St Patrick's Day is still two weeks away. But Dermot Cowley, the owner of O'Donovan's Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis, believes his lucky charm will be in town in just a couple of days.

"All fingers crossed. We don't know for sure but I told some members of our staff, this month of March might be the biggest month of our 25-year history. That's the potential it has for us," said Cowley.

The Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament is expected to draw more than 109,000 fans to the Target Center starting on Wednesday.

The tournament sold out for the first time ever, doubling the previous record of roughly 48,000 people set when the event was held in Minneapolis last year, thanks in large part to Iowa phenom Caitlin Clark.

"We're really in a brand new era of women's sports. Of course, the chance to see Caitlin Clark before she goes pro is huge," said Andrea Graham with Minnesota Sports and Events, the local organizing committee. 

Over five days, the tournament is expected to pump at least $30 million into local bars, restaurants and hotels.

With the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament a week later and the Twins home opener a couple of weeks after that, Organizers say the city is on a roll hosting major events.

"It really just brings another shot of energy and life and new eyes and new visitors to come see and experience our city and our hospitality."

Cowley says the tournaments are the difference between being closed only a handful of days this month instead of 15. He believes the luck of the Irish will rub off on downtown Minneapolis as well.

"That's the biggest thing is to highlight and showcase Minneapolis at its best," said Cowley.

Organizers say there will be events all over downtown, so even if you don't have a ticket, they encourage people to come on down.