MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s just 31 days until the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four games kick off in Minneapolis, and preparations are well underway.

Workers are busy transforming a football stadium into a basketball arena. And soon, they will need some extra help.

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The Final Four is a pivotal moment in college basketball that will soon unfold in a football venue, U.S. Bank Stadium. Patrick Talty is the stadium’s general manager.

“For turning a football stadium into a basketball arena is by far more complex and takes more time than preparing for the Super Bowl because of the uniqueness that it is creating a basketball arena,” Talty said.

One huge alteration is darkening the famously naturally-lit stadium, a $4.6 million project. Crews are lining a catwalk and hoisting a sail-like material over the ceiling. Large curtains will cover the sides, controlling light for the cameras and help with sound quality.

The darkening option also means the stadium can bid to host the NFL Draft, according to Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michael Vekich.

The darkening shades installed at U.S. Bank Stadium (credit: CBS)

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“This is truly a capital investment here. It happens that the Final Four gets to be the first user of it,” Vekich said.

A temporary change will be the seating the NCAA is installing. It will cover the lower level and go into the floor, taking the 62,000-person stadium into a 72,000-person arena.

“It puts us on the map, we’ve had the Super Bowl, the Final Four,” Vekich said. “That doesn’t happen every day.”

And everyone will get a chance to get in on it. They are inviting anyone on April 5 to come inside and watch the Final Four teams practice for free. There will also be a high school all-star game.

And there is also a way to get paid to be at the tournament. The stadium is hiring ushers, ticket takers and a cleaning staff for the games, and the upcoming Garth Brooks shows.

There are three hiring fairs:

  • Wednesday, March 13: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 16: 10 p.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 19: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
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See How Crews Are Transforming U.S. Bank Stadium

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield