Minneapolis will make a pitch to net high-profile basketball events in the coming years, showcasing a soon-to-be refurbished Target Center.
Minnpost reports that Ted Johnson, chief marketing officer of the Timberwolves and Lynx, confirmed Target Center will pursue hosting the women's NCAA Final Four tournament, to be held once the arena's $97 million renovation is complete. The earliest available year to host the college tourney would be in 2021; city finalists for the years leading up to that have already been selected.
The women's 2014 tournament was held in April in Nashville; leading up to the event television station WKRN said the event would bring about 5,000 visitors to the city and the economic value of the 5-day event was put at between $20-25 million.
The men’s Final Four tournament moved to domed stadiums in the '90s, but college women's teams still play in arenas. The NCAA requires a minimum seating capacity of 18,000 for facilities hosting the women's finals. While the new seating configuration for Target Center hasn’t been been finalized, Johnson said it should exceed the threshold.
Johnson also indicated Target Center will bid to host the WNBA and NBA All-Star Games, perhaps as soon as 2016.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Minneapolis was one of eight finalists to host the men's NCAA Final Four event, to be held in the new $1 billion Vikings football stadium. Minnesota's bid for the March Madness event is for a year from 2017-20. In May, Minnesota locked up the hosting rights for the 2018 SuperBowl in the new Vikings stadium. The winning bid stressed the area’s new hotels, updated transit offerings, the size of the airport and presence of the Mall of America.
“I know from a timing standpoint, having the Super Bowl, then following up with the men’s Final Four, those are very marquee events,” Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I would love the same members of those committees that push for that to view the women’s Final Four.”
The 1995 women's NCAA Final Four tournament was played in Minneapolis; Connecticut cut down the nets after beating Tennessee for its first national title.