MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As both the men's and women's NCAA college basketball tournaments begin, the City of Minneapolis is preparing for its first large-scale event sporting event since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Women's Final Four will bring an estimated 30,000 - 40,000 visitors to downtown Minneapolis, something members of the event's planning committee say could have an economic impact in the tens of millions.
"We've been working towards this for so long," said Wendy Blackshaw, CEO of Minnesota Sports and Events. "Just the excitement and the buildup, planning all of these events, we are so ready."
Blackshaw says the highlight of the weekend for her will be the various free events happening throughout the city from April 1-3 – from a "Tourney Town" event at the Minneapolis Convention Center, to a free concert and parade.
Also at the convention center, an ongoing free panel designed to empower women in sports and leadership. Blackshaw says with 2022 being the 50th anniversary of Title IX, it's inspiring to see the event continuing to push for equity.
"This has become a labor of love for me," Blackshaw said.
Most importantly, she says it's a chance for the city to continue its rebound.
"[Visitors] are flying into our airports, they're going to sleep in our hotels, they're going to eat at our restaurants, they're going to shop at our retail, we're going to bring people back downtown, back to our region," she said. "We're really excited about that."
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