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Photo by Sophia Hantzes
Photo by Sophia Hantzes

Minnesota and Women’s Basketball go together like flannel and work boots. Like chicken and wild rice. Like Lindsay Whalen and winning. You get my point. Whether it’s supporting the Minnesota Lynx, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, or even our high school teams, love of women’s sports runs deep up here in the bold north. With that in mind, it is past time that the Twin Cities got the opportunity to host the Women’s Final Four. And you can bet your blue ox that we’re going to take full advantage of the opportunity.

The Basketball 

All three games will be played at the Target Center in Downtown Minneapolis. The national semifinals will both take place on Friday, April 1 at 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM. The championship game will be two days later, on April 3 at 5:00 PM. 

2022 is a big year for the Women’s Final Four. For the first time ever the Women’s NCAA tournament includes 68 teams, finally adopting the format the men’s league has been using since 2011. Like Nina King, Chair of the NCAA Division/Women’s Basketball Committee, says “There are 68 teams that are deserving of a spot in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship.” And who doesn’t want more teams, more competition, and more basketball?

The equity doesn’t end with the opportunity. Get ready to see the Women’s Final Four like you never have before. This year the championship games will be captured by almost forty cameras – a huge upgrade from college basketball’s standard five. 

“This is something I’m really proud of,” says ESPN Coordinating Producer Pat Lowry. Lowry has made it her mission to make sure that no detail goes unnoticed in these games and is accomplishing that mission with an impressive array of cameras. From the wide-angle perspective of the supercam, which Lowry jokingly describes as “the one that flies around and makes everything look big and important” to the courtside rail-cam to the high speed replay cameras, this tournament will be captured on an extraordinary level.

All of these upgrades translate to an amazing televised experience. If you don’t have tickets for every game, why not check out a few at one of our favorite women-owned sports bars? Try The Dubliner in St. Paul or either Como Tap or Cardinal Restaurant and Bar in Minneapolis.

Local Suggestions

The Twin Cities has a lot to offer outside of basketball. 

Minnesota is well known for its Jucy Lucys – a cheeseburger that puts the cheese inside the beef patty instead of on top of it. Most burger joints will have some version of this inverted cheeseburger (my personal favorite is the Blucy at Blue Door Pub), but if you want to try the original check out Matt’s Bar or the 5-8 Club. Both establishments insist that they were the first to come up with this greasy delicacy and both are worth a visit. Fair warning: Matt’s is cash only. 

The Saloon, the Gay 90s, and The Black Hart are some of the best queer nightlife that the Twin Cities has to offer. From drag to karaoke to bingo and burlesque, you are sure to find something that strikes your fancy. One of my most treasured memories is from a night out at the Black Hart when one of the dancers put a Victorian spin on their performance and spent a solid three minutes coyly showing off their ankles. I have never laughed so hard. Check the schedules of all three venues to see what kind of fun you can expect this weekend. 

We are an outdoorsy people – even in the winter months. April either offers up last-minute blizzards or gorgeous spring weather, so we’ll split the difference and recommend taking a springtime walk at Minnehaha Falls or renting cross country skis from one of our many outdoor gear shops and hitting the trails at Theodore Wirth Park or Fort Snelling State Park. Of course, there’s always the Como Park Conservatory for those who prefer their outdoors to be indoors.

I also recommend a visit to George Floyd Square. This three-block stretch along Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis runs from East 37th to East 39th Street and is marked by three impressive sculptures of raised fists. If you do go to George Floyd Square, please remember that this is a sacred space, built during the 2020 uprising and lovingly maintained since then. You can also find a few powerful murals created by Minnesotan artists and activists in Uptown along Hennepin Avenue and in South Minneapolis around Lake and Minnehaha. Make sure you support some of our favorite Black-owned restaurants as well (https://lavendermagazine.com/our-scene/black-owned-restaurants-in-the-twin-cities/).

Official Events

There are plenty of official events to check out this weekend. More details can be found on the NCAA website.

Super Saturday Practice – Free – Target Center
April 2 from 1 – 3:15 PM (doors at 12:30 PM)
A unique opportunity to see college basketball practice at its highest level.

Tourney Town – Free – Minneapolis Convention Center
April 1 from 9 AM – 5 PM
April 2 from 9 AM – 6 PM
April 3 from 9 AM – 4 PM
Three days of pep rallies, games, mascots, and more. Check out the Beyond the Baseline programming, which features panel discussions, social events, and networking opportunities based around women in sports, leadership, and business.

Party on the Plaza – Free – 1st Avenue in front of Target Center
April 1 from 3 PM – 5:30 PM
April 2 from 12 PM – 4 PM
April 3 from 2 PM – 4:30 PM
An outdoor pregame with food, beverages, music, games, photo opportunities and more. 

Minneapolis is incredibly pleased to be hosting the Women’s Final Four this year. Come for the basketball. Stay for the Jucy Lucy, the queer scene, the parks, and the activism. 

We’re glad you’re here.

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