With Final Four comes revamped North Commons Recreation Center

Image 1 of 6

Minneapolis is gearing up for the Final Four, and so is a local community center with deep ties to basketball.

The North Commons Recreation Center unveiled its new court Tuesday with the help of a former local NBA star. As drumlines gave the event the feeling of a big game, community members hit the court.

Even Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey took a few shots during the dedication.

“Here is the truth: north Minneapolis is deserving of a primo facility, north Minneapolis is deserving of excellence and that is what we’re delivering today,” Mayor Frey said.

City leaders joined with the Final Four to celebrate the refurbished gym, which the tournament and various sponsors helped make happen.

Growing up, north Minneapolis’ own and NBA champ Devean George spent a lot of time at North Commons.

“It really brings hope to a community,” George said. “We’re all here every day; my dad still lives across the street.”

Old memories melded with the new court for some, including the rock of the rec center, who is affectionately known as Miss Willie.

“29 years ago, I never thought we would make it this far. But then, there was someone looking over us that brought us this far, and I’m so happy,” Miss Willie said.

Minneapolis Park Board Superintendent Al Bangoura said that location is key.

“One thing you can transform and change is the gyms. It’s the heartbeat, and if you change the gym, you bring to the park an amazing space that is transformative,” Bangoura said.