It's 818 days until the 2019 men's Final Four tips off in Minneapolis, yet organizers have officially opened the doors to the effort to host the three-game college basketball extravaganza.
Minneapolis has hosted the tournament twice, in 1992 and 2001. But the event has gotten much bigger and much different in the intervening 18 years, according to NCAA officials. They've added a variety of ancillary events meant particularly for people who don't have tickets.
The extra events will include a three-day music festival, said Kate Mortenson, CEO and president of the Minneapolis local organizing committee, which bid for the games and make arrangements to host the events.
It'll be free to attend the festival, she said, and you won't need a ticket.
"So Saturday, when those semi-final games are happening, across town, we'll have somebody like Rihanna or like Maroon 5, or Kendrick Lamar or other top talent," Mortenson said.
There's also a fan festival planned at the Minneapolis Convention Center and a mass basketball dribbling march down the Nicollet Mall by kids.
Mortenson spoke at the new downtown Minneapolis offices of the host committee, just three blocks from the site of the scheduled tournament. The committee held an open house and kickoff event on Tuesday to mark the formal start of preparations for the Final Four.
Scott Romane, executive director of Sports Minneapolis, an arm of Meet Minneapolis, said organizers are expecting to bring as many as 90,000 people to the Twin Cities for the event. That's expected to have as much as a $60 million impact on the Minnesota economy.
U.S. Bank Stadium has been designed specifically to accommodate a basketball tournament, unlike the Metrodome, Romane said.
"Stadium seating capacity will be modified slightly," he said. "We're very excited about the exceptional design of the stadium that will provide almost an arena type of feel to those 75,000 folks that will be able to have seats inside the actual stadium."
The game will follow the 2018 Super Bowl, also set to be played at U.S. Bank Stadium.