Final Four highlights free events surrounding tournament games

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(2019 Final Four Organizing Committee)

A little more than a year after hosting the Super Bowl, U.S. Bank Stadium is getting ready for another large-scale sporting event.

The countdown to the Final Four is on and while it may not be as large of a production, there’s no shortage of activities.

When you’re playing host to one of the biggest college sporting events in the world, it takes some planning.

“So, I’ve been involved for 1,750 days, but we’ve had a team and office for two years now,” said Kate Mortenson, the President and CEO of Minneapolis’ local organizing committee. “So, we are finally in the zone where Final Four is on everyone’s mind.”

Mortenson’s committee is tasked with making sure everything runs smoothly with the Men’s Final Four Tournament coming to Minneapolis April 5-8.

“We feel very confident this is going to be a unique and special experience starting with our compact downtown,” she said. “This is a come down, stay downtown event.”

Even if you’re downtown and you never see a minute of the games, there will be plenty to do for free.

There will be Final Four Friday, which is a chance to watch the teams practice and tour U.S. Bank Stadium. Also, the Tip Off Tailgate is scheduled with music on Nicollet Mall.

March Madness Music will feature national acts at the Armory. It also won’t cost a thing, but you will have to register online for a pass.

Finally, Fan Fest at the Minneapolis Convention Center will also be free for kids, but tickets are needed for adults.

“We want people of the region to know the Final Four, April 5-8, is no ticket, no problem,” Mortenson said. “We want people to come downtown and stay downtown.”

The Final Four transformation along Nicollet is expected to be a win for businesses in the zone, too.

“It’s going to be like the Super Bowl again,” said Christopher Valen, of Haskell’s Wine Bar and Café. “ Everyone coming in and around the country the world and kind of converging on our little wine bar. It’s going to be crazy.”

While the basketball teams will face pressure on the court, those putting together fan events outside the stadium know they’ll have one chance to score with the fans.

“What we’ve seen with the Final Four is cities that deliver a high quality event for student athletes, visitors and fans when they see the Final Four return,” Mortenson.