NCAA in town to evaluate Minnesota as a Final Four host

Minneapolis is being courted this week to host another menâÄôs basketball Final Four, which generated more than $47 million in revenue last year in San Antonio. Two members of the NCAA MenâÄôs Basketball Committee are here to meet with University of Minnesota representatives, members of the Twin Cities business community and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission . Minnesota is competing against 10 cities for rights to host a Final Four at the Metrodome during the 2014-2016 seasons. When Minnesota hosted the Final Four in 2001, the University directly received about $750,000 in revenue, Associate Athletics Director Marc Ryan said. Minnesota did not bid for 2012 or 2013 because of the MetrodomeâÄôs uncertainty, Ryan said. âÄúWe donâÄôt know if there will be a new climate-controlled stadium or a different professional venue downtown,âÄù Ryan said. The Metrodome is MinneapolisâÄô only issue and there are new state-of-the-art facilities in other cities, Ryan said, but they have learned a lot from previously hosting the event. âÄúThe size and scope of the Final Four has gotten so much bigger since we hosted it seven years ago,âÄù Ryan said. âÄúItâÄôs not just three basketball games anymore.âÄù Ryan went to the Kid Rock concert last year in San Antonio, and even though it wasnâÄôt his style of music, it was great to get people involved who canâÄôt get tickets to the games, he said. They will be looking at possible indoor and outdoor sites for concerts and other activities, Ryan said. The selection process has been difficult because the finalists are all very capable, said Dave Worlock, associate director for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Dennis Alfton, director of operations for the Metrodome, said there are four aspects that make Minneapolis a good choice: location, experience, flexibility and creativity. The Metrodome is close to the Minneapolis Convention Center, which would host interactive games and other activities. It is also surrounded by many hotels, which is something the NCAA carefully looks at. The NCAA requires the host city to have a minimum of 10,000 full-service hotel rooms within about 20 minutes from the competition venue, Worlock said. âÄúA big plus we have in this event is that we met the challenges of the Republican National Convention ,âÄù Alfton said. âÄúWe were very successful with that, while accommodating everyone in our hotels.âÄù Minneapolis also hosted the Final Four in 1992, and will host the 1st and 2nd rounds of the NCAA menâÄôs basketball tournament this March. But experience doesnâÄôt necessarily make Minneapolis a front-runner, Worlock said. âÄúI think itâÄôs a combination of experience and wanting to visit new cities,âÄù he said. âÄúBut Minneapolis has certainly demonstrated their ability to hold high-profile events.âÄù The Metrodome would add 6,000 âÄúhigh qualityâÄù lower level seats, Alfton said, with the help of NCAA risers and folding chairs. The NCAA requires the competition venue to seat at least 60,000 people, Worlock said, because the court will be moved to the center of each venue in order to make room for more fans. The selection committee toured the Metrodome and will look through hotels tomorrow, Ryan said. Other competitors include Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, New Orleans, St. Louis, Phoenix, San Antonio and the University of North Texas . Representatives from Minneapolis and the University will present their final report to the NCAA and the winners will be announced in November.