MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fans are trickling out of downtown Minneapolis Tuesday after an action-packed week. The Final Four is over, but the effect the tournament had on the city of Minneapolis is just beginning.

From a decked-out stadium, to a kid-friendly convention center, to a non-stop party on Nicollet Mall, the city welcomed the fans — and the fans welcomed the experiences.

“It was a great city, a great town,” said Nakia Tate, a UVA fan from California. “I love the sky walks.”

“It’s been a wonderful visit, nice hotel, nice people. The venue was really cool, I loved the Viking ship,” said Tam Murray, a UVA fan from Washington D.C. “I love the sky walks.”

For UVA athletes, the city truly made a winning impression.

“It’s cool. Go to be up there with one of my favorite cities now, especially because we were able to take care of business,” said UVA basketball player Grant Kersey.

One of the many visitors in town on business is Greg Echlin, sports writer for National Public Radio. This was his 20th tournament.

“I was here for the last Final Four in Minneapolis, and the whole city really stepped up since the last Final Four,” Echlin said.

He credits the layout of the new stadium and the walkability of the other activities and hotels. He did say one area for improvement was the concert setup at the Minneapolis Armory.

“The other cities that have hosted the free concerts put them in an outdoor venue, where you have about 20,000-30,000 people gathering for a free concert, and I think that that opportunity was rather limited here because of the setting where it took place,” Echlin said.

One place that did have a huge crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium broke the attendance record with over 72,000. And the Free Final Four Friday events nearly doubled expectations with more than 36,000 people. And the city may win again.

“I believe that Minneapolis will definitely be in the mix for future Final Fours,” Echlin said.

The remnants of the Final Four are expected to be cleaned up by Wednesday night.

The Elite 8 and Sweet 16 will be in Minneapolis in 2021. Target Center will host the Women’s Final Four in 2022. Minneapolis could also be in the running for the College Football Championship.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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