By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It will be a history-making weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium as basketball takes center court for the first time.

The Vikings home turf transformed into a basketball arena for this weekend’s U.S. Bank Stadium Basketball Classic.

It is the first dress rehearsal of sorts for the Final Four in Minneapolis in April.

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“This weekend is extremely exciting,” said Jack Bernstein, marketing coordinator for the Minneapolis Final Four.

The shot clock in a downtown office building is a subtle reminder of the work ahead during a time this team calls “Decisions December.”

“They like to say if we had to put on the Final Four in January, one all the decisions would be made and we’d be ready to go,” Bernstein said. “We’re working diligently here to make sure we’ll be ready.”

That diligence will take them to U.S. Bank Stadium as of Friday, where college teams will help set the stage for April 6, 2019.

(credit: CBS)

“To test the bells and whistles and make sure everyone has ample time to get to where they need to on the floor,” Bernstein said.

As for fans, they can shoot hoops around the NCAA’s Fan Jam truck set up inside, and capture their own shining moment with the national championship trophy.

“I think we learned a lot from the first time around and excited for another group of people to come in,” said Marisa Hovde, Radisson RED’s director of sales.

Downtown businesses are again hoping to score after February’s frigid Super Bowl kept crowds down at restaurants like Radisson Red’s Oui Bar. But once again, the hotel’s 164 rooms are booked.

“We also have an outdoor patio that we’re hopefully going to try to activate again depending on two feet of snow or not,” Hovde said.

A playbook of warmer spring weather and younger fans could mean bigger profits this time.

“Now with the Final Four, we’re looking at more students and families and that college-aged crowd,” she said. “Pretty much the target market for our hotel.”

The first round of the double header starts Friday night at 6 p.m. Organizers expect 15,000 fans to watch the games both Friday and Saturday. Tickets are still available for $15.

Liz Collin


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