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Final Four brings work

Final Four Logo

March 22, 2019

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS — One of the nation’s most prominent sports events — the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four — comes to U.S. Bank Stadium April 6-8. Related events at other local venues will run April 5-8. College basketball fans will be looking forward to the action on the basketball court. And local union members will be looking forward to the work hours — setting up and cleaning up, staffing events, and serving an estimated 94,000 Final Four visitors to the metro area.

“While it’s not quite as important as the Super Bowl, it certainly will fill up all our hotels and restaurants,” said Wade Luneburg, political director for UNITE HERE Local 17.

“It’s not just a night or two,” Luneburg added. “It’s five or six days of business… I anticipate all 6,000 of our members will be working in one way or another at the hotels, convention center, MSP and U.S. Bank Stadium.”

Local 17 members will be getting a boost from overtime hours and overtime pay, too, he said.

In addition to the games at U.S. Bank Stadium, where Local 17  members work the concessions, the “Final Four Fan Fest” will be taking place at the Minneapolis Convention Center, another Local 17 venue.

“So much was learned from the Super Bowl that it’s made this [event] much more manageable,” Luneburg noted.

Leading up to the big event, U.S. Bank Stadium is being temporarily transformed into a basketball arena with a basketball floor, 14,000 additional seats, darkening curtains, and a suspended scoreboard.

Installing the darkening curtains has brought about two months of work for a crew of 12 members of Local 13 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, reported Matt Rice, Local 13 business manager.

“The biggest thing we have to do is hang the scoreboard in the center of the stadium and all kinds of special lighting and install the audio,” Rice said.

At the Minneapolis Convention Center, the work to present the “Final Four Fan Fest” will use a crew of 50 IATSE members, he added.

Those 94,000 visitors? Many will be flying in and out of MSP airport, where Local 17 members staff the food concessions. “We’ll definitely see an up-tick in business at the airport,” Luneburg said.

“Minneapolis is really marketing itself as a true sports venue,” Luneburg observed. “It’s really taking advantage of this permanent sports infrastructure that we’ve all invested in.”

He added that “MSP is a really important part of making this work.”

Bill McCarthy, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, serves on the boards of both the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and also Meet Minneapolis, which markets the city to attract events and development. “This is yet another example of why we worked to build a sports economy in Minneapolis and why we invested in a stadium to bring work to our members and benefit the community as a whole,” he said.

For more information about Final Four events, including many free events open to the public, visit www.ncaa.com/final-four.

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