MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In Downtown Minneapolis, things are getting real. In just a few days, basketball fans from states like Texas, Michigan, Virginia and Alabama will star pouring in.

But all the Final Four fun is not just for the visitors. The festivities were really planned with locals in mind. Despite major crowds, organizers say it will be totally doable for locals to come downtown and get in on the action.

“At the beginning you see the signs across the street and stuff, but now the real thing’s happening, so it’s a little different,” said resident Emeka Okaye.

“I’m excited. I saw the big lumberjack, I think, and Babe the blue ox [at WCCO], so I’m excited about that,” said resident Chris Blomstrand.

The WCCO rooftop is ready, and soon Nicollet Mall will be, too. With music, food and even a Ferris wheel, it will be ready for the masses.

“I think it’s not going to be the nightmare people believe it to be in their heads,” said Kim Insley of the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center. “You just park a car, take an Uber in or whatever, all of the events are walkable. They’re all within one mile of each other.”

There will be a few street closing near Nicollet Mall and around U.S. Bank Stadium.

“What we want people to know who live here is that you need to come downtown and experience this. You don’t want to miss out, you really don’t,” Insley said.

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She says this crowd will be less corporate and less crowded than the Super Bowl. The activities will also be less expensive. Fan Fest is $10 for adults, free for kids. And U.S. Bank Stadium will have open free team practices for fans far and near alike.

“We’re welcoming people from Stillwater, we’re welcoming people from La Crosse, Wisconsin, we’re welcoming people from Forest Lake, there’s no reason not to see this,” Insley said.

If you do live in the area but are not familiar with downtown, you can download the NCAA app. It will have maps and street closures to help take the confusion out of it all. Remember, the last time the Final Four was in Minneapolis was 2001, so enjoy it while you can.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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