MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — The finishing touches are being put on Target Center ahead of the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament.
The city of Minneapolis is hosting the five-day event for the first time.
"We're able to capitalize on the success and the rich tradition Minneapolis has had with the recent Super Bowl. They had the Men's Final Four last year — Women's Final Four, which sold out. They come out and support their Minnesota Lynx. So I just think it's a really great opportunity for us to appeal to the organic and grassroots basketball fan here," said Megan Kahn, vice president of women's basketball for the Big Ten.
It's the first time the tournament has been held outside Indianapolis since 2015. Minneapolis will host the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament again in 2024, followed by the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament.
"Part of it was bringing it to new markets, and new audiences, and connecting with their Big Ten cities. We were their first trial run and so far, so good from what I can tell," said Andrea Graham, co-executive director of the local organizing committee with Minnesota Sports and Events.
Kahn added, "Not only do our student-athletes get a new experience, we're growing our fanbase. We have an entirely new set of fans who are now in driving distance or local to Minneapolis."
There's also all-new branding that will be on display for the first time at Target Center. On Tuesday afternoon, crews were busy getting things ready ahead of the first game Wednesday when Minnesota takes on Penn State.
"We're so amazed so far by the response to ticket sales. As of yesterday, for all-session tickets, Minnesota has already exceeded the 2022 ticket sales numbers by 443%. We just expect that to continue to grow," Graham said.
Beyond the tournament games, there will be free events. A Big Ten Fun Fan Zone will take place in the Target Center lobby 90 minutes before tip-off each session. The tournament is also holding Theme Days. For example, Thursday will be Minnesota Music Day, featuring Minnesota favorites like Lizzo, Prince and Dessa. Ahead of Sunday's championship game, fans can catch their favorite players from the final two teams as they walk the blue carpet into Target Center.
"I just think it's such an exciting time for Big 10 women's basketball. We have five teams ranked in the top 25. Anybody can beat anybody. It's already been proven this regular season," Kahn said. "So I think we're going to see a lot of exciting, competitive basketball."
The full bracket and 13-game schedule can be viewed, here.
Before fees, single-session tickets range from $12-$20 each. All-session tickets are available for $75. College students can get in for free with a valid student ID when redeemed in person. Discounts are also available for seniors and families.
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