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'Exceeded Expectations': Final Four Weekend Generates $143M For Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The final numbers are in, and organizers say the Final Four in Minneapolis was officially a success.

The college basketball tournament netted $143 million for the state as 91,000 tourists came to town in April.

The city made it's impression from the start as fans of basketball, became fans of Minneapolis.

But now, the numbers are in, and it's official: Ninety-four percent of Final Four visitors say they hope to return to the Twin Cities.

"The Final Four in particular was very family friendly, family oriented and that was great to see. It was really a joyous feel to the long weekend," Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council said.

In some ways, tourism advocates say it trumped that other big event in 2018.

"Something that was even better about Final Four than Super Bowl was the economic impact seemed to be a little more evenly spread. More people, more business people, felt it was a positive for them from an economic standpoint," Cramer said.

One of those business people is the general manager of The Local on Nicollet Avenue.

"We obviously expected it to be busy, but with the weather, it definitely pushed us up to where it exceeded expectations," Ryan Osendorf said.

The Monday of the tournament was 70 degrees, allowing venues to use outdoor space to feed more mouths.

"Burgers and beer, that's what it really came down to for the Final Four," Osendorf added.

While the spending was high, so was the attendance. The free open practices broke attendance records for all other host cities -- so the University of Virginia wasn't the only winner that weekend.

" ... :37 One of my favorite cities now that we were able to take care of business ..."

The next big events for the city: next March, the city will be hosting the Division 1 NCAA Wrestling Championships, and the NCAA Women's Final Four in 2022. And then the big push will be for the college football championship.

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