Regional Sports Commission Announces Minneapolis-Saint Paul-Bloomington Will Host NCAA Events

Minnesota Sports and Events formalized to attract and execute large-scale events to help revitalize region’s economy

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Oct. 14, 2020 – The Minneapolis-Saint Paul-Bloomington region will once again be a postseason hub for college sports fans as today the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) selected the region to host Division I championships in men’s swimming & diving, men’s ice hockey and women’s ice hockey between 2023, 2024 and 2025, respectively.

In conjunction with the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Sports and Events, a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization established by leaders from the hospitality, sports and business communities, will work with venue and community partners to plan and execute the NCAA Championship bids for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul-Bloomington region. Minnesota Sports and Events was officially formalized to advance the event procurement efforts of the region and to bring an integrated, competitive approach to attracting future world-class events.

The events awarded today include:

2023 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships, Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center
2024 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Frozen Four, Xcel Energy Center
2025 NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Frozen Four, Ridder Arena

“We are excited to welcome fans, visitors, student-athletes and coaches back to our wonderful region to celebrate collegiate sports,” said Melvin Tennant, Chief Executive Officer of Meet Minneapolis and Executive Board member of Minnesota Sports and Events. “The NCAA has complete confidence in the University of Minnesota as the host institution for these collegiate championships, and the procurement of these events further cements the region’s national status as a proven championship-caliber host community.”

The NCAA Championships will drive a significant economic impact in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul-Bloomington region. The 2020 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in Detroit was projected to generate an economic impact of $10 million, and the 2019 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four in Hamden, Conn., created an estimated $1.2 million in economic impact. The 2018 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships held at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center produced an estimated economic impact of $1.2 million as visitors enjoyed restaurants, shopped local stores and stayed in area hotels.

Minnesota Sports and Events (MNSE)

In response to the competitive marketplace of attracting large-scale sports championships and other events to the region, leaders of the Minnesota sports franchises, business community and hospitality industry came together to formalize existing partnerships under one regional entity as Minnesota Sports and Events to draw world-class events that will drive economic activity to the region.

“Visit Saint Paul is proud to be part of this unified regional effort to secure events that will generate millions of dollars in revenue for local business,” said Terry Mattson, Chief Executive Officer, Visit Saint Paul. “Saint Paul is home to multiple world-class facilities in Xcel Energy Center and Allianz Field, and anytime we host an event somewhere in this region, our city sees substantial economic impact. During the 2019 NCAA Men’s Final Four, two major Saint Paul hotels experienced a year-over-year occupancy rate increase of 200% and more than a 100% increase in average daily rate.”

The primary goal of Minnesota Sports and Events is to maximize impact for the region’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion and execution of world-class events.

“The launch of Minnesota Sports and Events comes at a time when stimulating the economy is critical to supporting the state’s impaired hospitality sector,” said Bonnie Carlson, Chief Executive Officer, Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Executive Board Co-Chair for Minnesota Sports and Events. “Alongside the superlative sports venues in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Mall of America propels business for hotels, restaurants, local attractions and retail outlets, and it is the perfect destination for events and entertainment tied to the premier experiences we bring to the region.”

Modeled after best practices of sports commissions across the U.S., Minnesota Sports and Events advances the established event procurement efforts in the region by forming an official commission that will orchestrate a coordinated approach, working with community organizations and businesses, to aggressively pursue economic opportunities for the state’s hospitality, tourism and retail industries. When MNSE secures a bid, the organization will then serve as the event’s permanent Local Organizing Committee, providing operations, marketing, fundraising and event support.

“Over the last decade, Minnesota has established a track record as a renowned destination and host for iconic events, and each of those events chose our state because of the hard work of the different groups that came together to seek each bid,” said Dave St. Peter, President and Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Twins, and Executive Board Co-Chair, Minnesota Sports and Events. “Minnesota Sports and Events will streamline the entire bid process for Minnesota, leveraging experience, data and connections so that we can more efficiently and effectively secure economic opportunities for our hospitality and tourism sectors.”

The commission is led by President and Chief Executive Officer Wendy Blackshaw, who brings more than 30 years of marketing and sales experience to the organization. As senior vice president of marketing and sales for Super Bowl LII, Blackshaw’s team generated more than $53 million in private corporate funding. Blackshaw also serves as the CEO for the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four, an MNSE event, which will be held at Target Center.

The Minnesota Sports and Events Executive Board includes:

Dave St. Peter, Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Twins; Co-Chair
Bonnie Carlson, Chief Executive Officer, Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau; Co-Chair
Christine Sovereign, Senior Managing Director, Accenture; Secretary
Lester Bagley, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Minnesota Vikings
Doug Carnival, Partner, McGrann Shea Carnival
Ethan Casson, Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx
Darren Caudill, Senior Vice President of Sales, Merchandising and Marketing, Cub Foods
Mark Coyle, Director of Athletics, University of Minnesota                     
Matt Majka, President, Minnesota Wild
John Marshall, Director of Community Relations (MN, ND, SD), Xcel Energy
Terry Mattson, Chief Executive Officer, Visit Saint Paul
Jill Renslow, Executive Vice President, Business Development / Marketing, Mall of America
Melvin Tennant, President & Chief Executive Officer, Meet Minneapolis
Chris Wright, Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota United FC
Wendy Blackshaw, President & Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Sports and Events

Minnesota Sports and Events recently submitted a bid for the Olympic Team Trials – Swimming and was named a finalist. MNSE has been instrumental in securing  the 2021 NHL Winter Classic at Target Field, forming the Local Organizing Committee for the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four and has submitted bids for many premier events, including the Special Olympics USA Games in 2026. MNSE is pursuing multiple impactful events like the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, NCAA Men’s Final Four, CONCACAF Gold Cup, USA Volleyball Championships, Wrestlemania and NFL Draft.


Media Contact:

Debbie Estes


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