The icing on the cake was the fact that during the WNBA All-Star Game festivities, our Sports Minneapolis team was working behind the scenes to lure yet another high-profile event in the future. That event is the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Seven members of the NCAA Women’s Basketball leadership team, plus a member of the Women’s Basketball Selection Committee who will vote on future cities, joined us to see how our community embraces and executes a major event. Our goal was to give them confidence that we can do for them what we did for the WNBA.
We had an action-packed itinerary for our NCAA guests and took advantage of every spare moment to make our case for a Women's Final Four in 2022, 2023 or 2024. Our other NCAA credentials – with upcoming events like NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships later this year, NCAA Men's Wrestling Championships in 2020 and our much anticipated Men's Final Four next year – made a definite impression on our NCAA guests. University of Minnesota's Sr. Associate Athletics Director, Tom McGinnis, and Julie Manning, Executive Associate Athletics Director, represented the host institution during this sales visit from the NCAA, as they do whenever we’re working to secure future NCAA events. The university must commit significant resources to make sure NCAA events are executed to the required standards.
Here is what one of the NCAA staff wrote to us after experiencing our city: “The city of Minneapolis did a terrific job supporting the sport and the event in its entirety. In saying that, this was my first time visiting Minneapolis and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the community support women’s basketball the way it did. Not only is the community welcoming and supportive, but also the footprint of the city itself is beautiful.”
And the plan continues to yield dividends with the seeds planted by the Sports Minneapolis communications team. That team was part of a media pitch with the Minnesota Lynx to the Star Tribune where we talked about our involvement with the WNBA All-Star Game and its significance for Minneapolis. Key local media participated in an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the NCAA site visit. Our team also invited select media to attend a reception and offered 1-on-1 opportunities to interview Diane Turnham who was the one member of the NCAA site visit team that is on the Selection Committee. The resulting media coverage included four stories:
- Star Tribune: WNBA All-Stars descending on downtown Minneapolis
- Star Tribune: Women's Final Four committee judges Minneapolis at WNBA All-Star Game
- KSTP-TV: Mpls. City Leaders Host NCAA in Hopes of Securing Women's Basketball Final Four Bid
- Twin Cities Business: Minneapolis Tries to Woo the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four
The final decision on whether or not we will be selected as a future city will be in October and we will keep you posted. In the meantime, we’ll continue to work on that and many other events and opportunities like the upcoming Minnesota Sports Awards and the NCAA Women’s Division I Volleyball Championships at Target Center this December.