MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As basketball fans begin to land in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, crews are hard at work making sure attractions on Nicollet Mall like concert stages, news sets and a gigantic Ferris wheel are ready.

Many college basketball fans have already made the pilgrimage to Minneapolis. Steve Thompson traveled 1,400 miles from Alberta, Canada.

“It was a dream come true, a chance of a lifetime for a lifetime college basketball fan,” Thompson said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing a match-up between a five and a three seed. If it was Auburn and Texas Tech, I think it would be very interesting, but we just met a bunch of the managers from Michigan State, so we are kind of pulling for those guys, too!”

READ MORE: How Has Minneapolis Changed Since The Last Final Four?

One of his first stops was picking up some merchandise at Art Fraser’s pop-up shop.

“We take an empty store, build a store. A day-and-a-half later, we are in business,” Fraser said.

He’s still unpacking boxes as people are snapping up T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats.

“Most of the business early on is local people, and the response has been great,” Fraser said. “People have been very supportive, excited about the game and all the activity in town.”

Another activity is happening over at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Parts of the Final Four Fan Fest got one last coat of paint before families are able to enjoy the games, the mascots and the fun.

The Tip Off Tailgate opens up to the public at 4 p.m. on Friday. It’s free to the public.

U.S. Bank Stadium opens at 10 a.m. Friday morning to watch the teams practice for free. The Fan Fest over at the convention center opens at 11 a.m. Friday and is free for kids under the age of 12.

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Mary McGuire

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