MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - With more than 90,000 college basketball fans expected to arrive in Minneapolis for the NCAA Final Four next week, law enforcement officials say increased security plans will also be going into place. Those operations will start Tuesday and will continue until fans leave town Tuesday, April 9.
The planning has been underway for more than a year. Having hosted other big events such as the All-Star Game, the X-Games and the Super Bowl, Minneapolis leaders are proud to be adding the NCAA Final Four to that list.
“The world has seen we are a world class city and we can handle world class events,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
Security procedures from last year’s Super Bowl were reviewed almost immediately after the crowds cleared. The plans will be similar for the Final Four. Once again, some roads will be blocked off around U.S. Bank Stadium, but there will be a smaller footprint.
At least 30 law enforcement agencies will be taking part in patrols next week, stretching from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to U.S. Bank Stadium. There will also be teams concentrating on sex trafficking at local hotels.
“This needs to be focused on the family-friendly event it does bring in, but we also know that at times, there are folks that will take advantage of people and we want to take steps to prevent and reduce that,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.
Unlike the Super Bowl, there won't be as much federal help, such as the National Guard, on hand for the Final Four. While patrolling NFL fans required about 3,000 sworn officers from all over the state, for the college basketball fans there won't be quite as many officers. Visitors will still notice a robust army of volunteers.
Law enforcement will once again lean on security cameras and partnerships with private security all over downtown.
“We have over 60 buildings on a common radio link with law enforcement - this is called our radio link program,” said Shane Zahn of the Downtown Improvement District. “We are also connected to several bars and restaurants through What’s App and radio comms as well.”
Above all, law enforcement stresses for anyone who might see something suspicious to say something.
“We are going to be here to help,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson. “We are going to keep it safe and we are going to have fun and you might even see me out having a little fun. “
According to the city, labor costs for the Final Four are estimated to be about $1.3 million, which will be paid by the funding sources established in the agreement with the Minneapolis Final Four Local Organizing Committee. Any additional costs will be offset by local event revenue.