You have to play to win. But the question is, are the residents of Minneapolis, Minnesota all on board for the Final Four that the city will host on April 6 and 8 at U.S Bank Stadium?
The Minneapolis City Council has decided to spend nearly $900,000 in public funds to host the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 2019 Men’s Final Four. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will also splash $6.9 million to run the event, according to CBS Minnesota.
Despite an estimated $142 million predicted to be contributed to the local food and beverage, accommodation, retail, transportation and entertainment economy, a few are bothered about this decision.
Some residents are troubled about spending $4.6 million on retractable blackout curtains which are required by the NCAA to be used during the day as to create the same environmental settings for the basketball players during practice to prep them for the live games.
Mark Ruff, Chief Financial Officer for the city of Minneapolis stated in the Star Tribune that the city typically avoids subsidizing events, but the anticipated benefits, such as the economic return from the final four event “made sense.”
Last year, local NCAA organizers estimated $185 million was put into the San Antonio, Texas local economy, such as restaurants, hotels, bars and retailers, during the final four.
“It’s just for these very large events, because in addition to just the cash, we get such great national exposure as a pretty fantastic place to visit,” Ruff commented in the Star Tribune.
According to the Explore MN 2018 annual report, tourism is a $25.3 billion industry for the state, contributing to more than 11 percent of jobs in the private sector and nearly a billion dollars in sales tax revenue.
Brittany Allen, the city event coordinator anticipates valued media exposure for the city and a boost to the hospitality sector, telling the Star Tribune that all 9,000 available hotel rooms will be sold out.
“Almost 35,000 people downtown work in [the hospitality] industry,” Allen said to the Star Tribune. “These events fill our hotels and restaurants and really spur that economic growth there.”
To cater to the 90,000 expected fans, many of which are college-aged, a plethora of free events are planned, such as a free three-day concert in downtown Minneapolis. It seems the city hopes to not simply accommodate its visitors but encourage them to come back or even move to the city.
Opportunities for future events in the upcoming years is an additional factor influencing the committee’s decision to fund the event. In 2020, the NCAA Men’s Wrestling Championship is scheduled to take place in the city, along with the 2021 Men’s Basketball Regional and the Women’s Final Four basketball tournament in 2022.
All these events will be broadcast and streamed throughout the world, bringing attention to Minneapolis, which has already reached over 143 million people through social media, thanks to the hashtag, #onlyinMN.
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