US Bank: A Basketball Experience Full of Highs and Lows

Addison Scufsa

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As the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Vikings announced construction of US Bank Stadium, plans were already underway to bring two of the biggest sporting events in the US to Minnesota: the Super Bowl and the Final Four. Following last year’s success hosting the Super Bowl, event organizers and stadium officials were promising one of the best Final Four experiences in the country at US Bank. While it certainly met these lofty expectations in some areas, the list of issues makes it hard to justify the event’s high price tag. 

Coming in at just over one billion dollars, US Bank Stadium is one of the most expensive stadiums in the country. Having been paid for in large part thanks to the taxpayers, the City of Minneapolis and the state expect it to make a good return on its investment thanks in part to large events such as the Super Bowl or the Final Four. Getting both in the span of a year was the best chance our city would have at convincing leagues to bring their marquee events to the frozen tundra. 

Last year’s Super Bowl went off without a hitch, bringing in hundreds of thousands of fans to events in Nicollet Mall, the Mall of America, the Convention Center, and the stadium. Having been to some of those events myself, I was excited to see what the city would be able to do for the Final Four this year. 

In many ways, the event was a success. The stadium was pretty much filled to capacity despite the massive size and lack of blue blood programs in the Final Four. Branding wise, the city did a fantastic job showing off the beautiful Minnesota colors and scenery, incorporating lots of blues and Timber green along with images of the Northern forests to make the event truly Minnesotan. The slogans managed to not be as corny as the Super Bowl’s “Bold North”, which isn’t saying much.

Having perfected directing traffic and setting up tents and checkpoints during the Super Bowl, entry and exit to the event went off without a hitch. Once inside, you are immediately in awe of the massive size of the stadium itself. You don’t really realize how big a stadium that has been converted to fit 72,000 people is until you are there in person. Not to mention the huge, circular video board hanging from the ceiling above the court put up specially for the Final Four. 

Unfortunately, there were many things that made the experience less than perfect, starting with the hideous curtains mandated by the NCAA. In order to have the correct amount of light for a basketball game, the stadium had to put up massive curtains over the beautiful windows at a cost of millions of dollars. In fact, taxpayers of the state had to pay over $10 million out of pocket to cover expenses mandated by the NCAA, over ten times the amount that the Super Bowl cost. 

The curtains and the extra bleachers ruined the atmosphere, making the stadium feel like a giant warehouse instead of a modern marvel. Between the horrid atmosphere and the poor sightlines, the viewing experience in person was not a reason to come to the event. 

Aside from the poor viewing experience, both fanbases and the exciting game itself made for a good time and a unique experience that you wouldn’t get at a basketball arena. US Bank put on a good show for the fans and gave Minnesotans the opportunity to experience a once in a lifetime event, but at a cost that is hard to justify. Football stadiums may be a good idea for the Final Four, but US Bank Stadium should not be host again, even if the branding was cool.