Let the games continue! Minneapolis will add one more event to its ever-growing roster of sports championships hosting gigs: the 2022 Women’s Basketball Final Four will be held in Minneapolis, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Monday.
The bid process, driven for the city by the University of Minnesota, Sports Minneapolis and Target Center, began more than a year ago. Final presentations were made in Tampa last week.
The committee’s winning pitch was based on a “Your Home Court Awaits” theme, ultimately beating out bids from seven different cities (initially there were eight finalists but Nashville dropped out).
“We are honored to serve as the host institution for the 2022 Women’s Final Four,” Minnesota director of athletics Mark Coyle said in a statement. Local leaders including Mayor Jacob Frey gathered for the announcement on Monday.
The Women’s Final Four was last hosted in Minneapolis in 1995. Adding to the significance of the long-awaited return: the 2022 championship falls on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Coyle pointed out.
“Minnesota has a long-standing tradition of hosting marquee NCAA championships,” said Coyle, “and we are excited that the Women’s Final Four is coming back to Minneapolis.”
Target Center has hosted the WNBA Finals and hosted the WNBA All-Star Game this past July.
And on the heels of this year’s Super Bowl, Minneapolis will also host the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. That’s in addition to the summer X Games of last year through 2020, at least seven years of a new PGA Tour event – the 3M Open – starting in 2019, and the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, and a soccer tournament featuring the national teams from North and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.
The Minneapolis Bid Committee’s efforts to sell the NCAA on bringing the Women’s Final Four here included a local site visit that coincided with the WNBA All-Star Game. This gave the deciding committee a chance to see Minnesota fans in action. Nearly 16,000 people attended that All-Star Game – reportedly the event’s biggest turnout since 2007 – proving perhaps as wholly as possible, the local support for the sport.
Kathy McCarthy, public relations director for Meet Minneapolis, told TCB in July that the push for the NCAA Women’s Final Four is part of a wider effort to draw women’s sports events to the city, as well as to spotlight the fan base that already exists here.
“This community has shown incredible support for female athletes at every level in our state,” said Melvin Tennant, executive director of Sports Minneapolis and president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis in prepared remarks Monday. “We intend to showcase that enthusiasm, along with our vibrant city and world-class venues, to fans and student athletes from around the country.”