Don’t get us wrong, Mpls is always vibrant and filled with activity year-round. It’s one of the things we love most about our city.

But during March—a month that can be bright, sunny and 70 or slick, frigid and snow-filled—even the most difficult weather Mother Nature sends us can’t damper the excitement and activity taking place in the heart of our downtown community.

March Madness takes on a whole new meaning here during these next few weeks.

That’s because we’ve got tournaments, parades and great groups of visitors coming into our town that will fill our streets and provide a fun atmosphere that we’ll all enjoy. Here’s a rundown of what to expect over the next couple weeks in downtown Mpls.

MSHSL girls basketball tournament

The 2017 Minnesota State High School League state girls basketball tournament kicks off on Tuesday at Target Center. The tournament’s four Class 4A quarterfinal games plus two Class 3A games will take place at Target Center on Tuesday, including the following matchups:

  • 10 am: Class 4A: Hopkins vs. Minnetonka
  • 12 pm: Class 4A: Park Center vs. Eastview
  • 2 pm: Class 4A: White Bear Lake Area vs. Elk River
  • 4 pm: Class 4A: Andover vs. Lakeville North
  • 6 pm: Class 3A: Willmar vs. Orono
  • 8 pm: Class 3A: Alexandria Area vs. Grand Rapids

That’s a lot of games on one day, and a lot of teams coming in from all across the metro and beyond. You’ll see school spirit scattered throughout downtown, specifically the Warehouse District, and it’s a great opportunity for these kids and their parents to see our vibrant city first-hand. They’ll also get to see The Minneapolis Big Build in full force as Target Center is in the middle of its construction process. The venue has a new scoreboard and updated skyway area, and the exterior is being transformed including the beginning work on a new lobby area on the corner of 1st Avenue and 6th Street. Target Center will close after the Timberwolves’ season to complete the construction, and the arena will be ready to go again in the fall.

National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff

The NCHC returns to Target Center again this year for their conference tournament championship. The event features four games—two semifinals on Friday plus a third place game and the championship on Saturday. This year’s lineup includes:

  • March 17, 4 pm: Western Michigan vs. Minnesota Duluth
  • March 17, 7:30 pm: North Dakota vs. Denver
  • March 18, 3:30 pm: 3rd place game
  • March 18, 7:30 pm: championship game

It also includes an annual free NCHC Fan Skate, which will take place at Target Center from 7-8:30 pm on Thursday, March 16. You can enter through the main lobby doors beginning at 6:30 pm. Skate rentals are available for purchase.

As a proud University of Minnesota alum and avid hockey fan, I can personally tell you I’m very familiar with many of these teams dating back to my college days attending the WCHA Final Five in St. Paul. My feelings toward North Dakota hockey ranks right up there with (and in many ways exceeds) that of anything Badger-related, if you get my drift. But I can also tell you North Dakota fans are some of the most loyal in college hockey, and they travel VERY well. A sea of black and green will be outside Target Center this weekend enjoying the festivities that usually spill out around the arena. The other teams involved will be well-represented, too. This is one of the most competitive leagues in college hockey, and Mpls is fortunate to host this tournament. Enjoy!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The North Dakota green will pair well with the weekend, apparently. St. Patrick’s Day is this Friday, and Mpls’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place beginning at 7:30 pm. The race route is revised this year running North to South along Marquette Avenue starting at 6th Street and concluding at 11th Street. Don’t miss out on a fun evening in downtown enjoying all that St. Paddy’s Day has to offer. Also remember that Metro Transit offers free rides from 6 pm through the end of the night, so you can enjoy the evening safely.

 MSHSL boys basketball state tournament

Next weekend, the boys come to town. The MSHSL boys basketball state championship takes place March 22-25 at Target Center. This will include four quarterfinal matchups for Class 4A and two for Class 2A on March 22, plus all semifinals and championship games for all four classes. This tournament is more than a century old and features an incredible assortment of top-notch coaches, Division I-bound athletes and fantastic fans from all across the state. The boys’ state tournament takes place downtown all week, so you’ll see teams and their followings all over the downtown area. Enjoy it, and stop by if you’re able to do so!

This is a great time to be in downtown Mpls. When March rolls around, you’ve got a bunch of activity with different, fun options of ways to spend your time. Have a great time enjoying these fun events, and be sure to share your experiences by using the hashtag #mymplsdt on social media.