Minneapolis lands 2019 Final Four

Published 8:15 am Saturday, November 15, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — After an 18-year absence, the NCAA men’s Final Four will return to Minneapolis in 2019, the NCAA announced Friday.

The games will be played in the Minnesota Vikings’ new $1 billion stadium, which is set to open in 2016 and also will host the 2018 Super Bowl.

“The Men’s Final Four is one of the most prestigious events in the country, and we are proud to have it in Minnesota,” Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen said in a statement Friday.

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Minneapolis was among eight cities —including New Orleans, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio and St. Louis — that were named finalists to receive a Final Four in 2017-2020. Minneapolis did not pursue the 2017 tournament because the host city also gets a regional final the preceding year and the Vikings’ new stadium won’t be built in time for the 2016 tournament.

In making its final pitch to the NCAA men’s basketball committee in Indianapolis this week, the Minnesota Final Four Bid Committee emphasized the new stadium and easy light-rail access to hotels, the airport and the University of Minnesota.

“We are thrilled to bring the NCAA Men’s Final Four back to Minnesota,” said David Mortenson, president of Mortenson Construction — which is building the Vikings’ stadium — and bid committee co-chair. “We were successful in impressing upon the committee our three main messages of our connected, easily accessible city, world-class venues and committed community.”

Gov. Mark Dayton called the selection “great news for Minnesota.”

“That weekend’s drama and excitement will bring tens of thousands of fans and millions of dollars in economic benefits to our state,” Dayton said in a statement.

The Minnesota Final Four Bid Committee said it’s still determining the tournament’s potential economic impact on Minnesota. Estimates are between $70 million and $200 million, based on other host cities over the last four years, the committee said.

In a statement, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said the city “will provide a world-class showcase for one of the greatest sporting events in America and world-class hospitality for the many thousands of guests that we will welcome.”

Minneapolis hosted a Final Four in 1992 and 2001 at the old Metrodome.