New Vikings stadium might be ready for NCAA’s 2017 Final Four

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his Duke team celebrate April 7, 1992 in Minneapolis, after receiving their championship trophy. Duke beat Michigan 71-51 to become the first team to repeat as national champions since 1973. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

It won’t be all Vikings football in the new “People’s Stadium,” if  the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority has its way.

MSFA chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen, some staff and representatives of Minneapolis are going to Atlanta in April to open talks to bring the NCAA Final Four basketball championship back to Minneapolis. And they’ll have plans for a spankin’ new stadium in hand when they travel to the Georgia Dome.

“We’ll be applying for the next round that we can apply for. It’s 2017 and 2018, that’s the next time frame that’s not committed. Which is obviously would be really good timing from our perspective. So we will be putting together a bid for that,” MSFA chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said in an interview this afternoon.

Kelm-Helgen says the Final Four would have an estimated 50 million dollar impact on the region.

“This draws about 75,000 fans from across the country. It’s a big event that would have a major economic impact on our city,” Kelm-Helgen says.

April’s meetings won’t be the formal bid — the paperwork and the selection process come later.

But Minneapolis knows the drill. The tournament was at the Metrodome in 1992 and 2001.

The prospects might be good for future Final Fours. This year’s Final Four will be in the Georgia Dome. From there, the March Madness concludes in Cowboys Stadium in 2014, at Lucas Oil Field in 2015, and at Reliant Stadium in Houston in 2016. (Reliant is the home of the Houston Texans and opened in 2002.)

That said, ESPN said in September that the NCAA is weighing downsizing its biggest money maker,  returning it to arenas, rather than stadiums. But then again, by 2017, Target Center migth be spiffed up and ready for a date with the Final Four itself.