Crews lay court at US Bank Stadium for venue's first basketball games

Four games this weekend are a run-through for the Final Four

Sloane Martin
November 27, 2018 - 12:22 pm
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A hardwood court now covers the artificial turf at the home of the Vikings, where college basketball is on the schedule for this weekend in preparation for next spring's men's Final Four.

The Final Four is April 4 and 6 at U.S. Bank Stadium, the fourth time Minneapolis has hosted the national semifinals and championship game for men's Division I college basketball. This Friday, UW-River Falls plays St. Thomas men at 6 p.m. followed by the U of M men versus Oklahoma State at 9 p.m. On Saturday,  North Dakota State takes on Drake at 5:30 and then South Dakota State plays Northern Iowa.

Crews spent Tuesday laying down more than 200 4-by-8-foot hardwood slabs to create the playing surface. The court and baskets are being borrowed from the Denny Sanford Premiere Center in Sioux Falls, which is also operated by SMG. U.S. Bank Stadium does not own a basketball court and equipment at this time and once the Final Four comes, the NCAA will have all its own materials. The artificial turf is protected the same way it is for concerts or the monster truck show.

This Friday and Saturday eight teams will be competing on a raised floor in the east end zone of the stadium which seats more than 66,000.

"It is definitely a run-through for April," US Bank Stadium general manager Patrick Talty said. "It's our opportunity to get a feel for what basketball feels like in the building, for our staff to get used to that flow of the college basketball fans and the tempo that they are and the pitch and the pace that it is and what the games look like. We'll also be testing how the players work in the locker rooms. Are the locker rooms set up well? How do they run from the locker rooms to the court? We're testing the scoring system. We're testing the horn. We're testing the shot clock. All those types of things, this is our opportunity to test that and make sure that everything is ready to go."

Talty says everything is on schedule to place the court and seating on the floor.

"You're not going to feel like you're in the football stadium because it's going to be a tight, intimate, nestled basketball court in the one end zone," he said.

The estimated $5 million upgrade to add blackout curtains to the stadium's windows, needed to host the Final Four per the NCAA, won't be in use this weekend because the games are in the evening.

Single game tickets for this weekend start at $15 and can be purchased at usbankstadium.com.