On March 19th, 2020, the NCAA Wrestling tournament will invade the currently in construction US Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings. Yes, the NCAA Wrestling committee gave a bid to Minneapolis and for the first time, the grapplers are invading a football venue. I don't think the proper levels of excitement have been reached.
When ESPN starts broadcasting on Saturday at 8pm, there will be one one mat in this:
Recent NFL stadiums are incredible achievements of architecture....or something along those lines. A Popular Mechanics article details the new technology here
The outer layer of ETFE foil is printed with a silver ink to create a "frit" that helps reduce the heat of the sun on the roof surface and deflect the sun, while the inner layer of air helps maintain the desired temperature, altogether controlling the thermal needs of the 66,200-seat building. About 60 percent of the roof is clad in these translucent ETFE pillows, amounting to a total of 240,000 square feet, while the remainder is a traditional steel deck and membrane roof.
Minneapolis has its long, cold winters, but that doesn't mean that football in September is frigid. The Vikings wanted to welcome the warm air, not just shun the cold, and that's where the idea for huge glass doors started. The west end of the building features the five largest pivoting glass doors in the world, 55 feet wide and ranging from 95 feet to 75 feet tall. With all these translucent and transparent materials, even on a cloudy day in Minneapolis enough natural light streams into the building that the new stadium looks like it opens to the outside.
That's some technical stuff to say that this stadium will be, in my terms, super-badass. The NCAA Wrestling Championships continue to sell out large arenas across the country, well east of the Rockies. Still the annual March crowning of champions is one of the few NCAA Championships that make money. Having it in such a venue is a big swing for Wrestling, a bold move, and a huge opportunity.
Of course, selling out this venue is unlikely. Its football capacity is listed at 66,655 and there will likely be floor seats adding to that threshold. However, Minneapolis is a good Wrestling host city. Plenty of Minnesota and Iowa fans are in driving distance and MSP airport is easily reached from almost any decent city via direct flight.
There should be some hype building hopefully making this installment of the NCAA Championships a success. I can't wait for this amazing opportunity for Wrestling when ESPN tunes into the finals on Saturday night.