2020 NCAA D1 Championships at US Bank Stadium

Editor’s note: I hope to keep this article and ensuing conversation positive. I think having the NCAAs in a football sized arena is a super unique opportunity and something I hope the wrestling community can embrace.
Update: I was shown a mock-up of a possible layout for the mats during the first rounds of competition. This is NOT finalized, just a possible layout option.

Updated mock-up of the possible layout of the mats for the first few rounds.
Rendering of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game seating layout at US Bank Stadium. Will NCAA Wrestling do something similar for the finals?

At the conclusion of the 2019 NCAA D1 championships, there was a lot of discussion around how next year’s NCAA championships will unfold at US Bank Arena in Minneapolis. I think this will be a really cool opportunity to do some things that have never been done before with nearly unlimited floor space and unlimited tickets. Admittedly, and myopically, as a photographer that year-after-year gets squeezed at the end of the mats for the first two days of competition, I’m excited about the possibility of having more working room, and possibly more access to all mats in the early rounds.

Shooting the quarters across 3-4 mats is always frustrating for photographers, because we miss amazing shots, like what happened seconds later above, where Austin O’Conner leaped over Coach Ramos and into Coach Hasseman’s arms.

Obviously, the biggest topic of discussion is sight-lines and the ability to see across a football-sized stadium. As well as the intimacy (or lack there of) of the fan experience in such a large venue. I think these are legitimate concerns, and I’m intrigued to see what the NCAA plans to do, but I’m not sure people should be throwing in the towel just yet by threatening not to go. Especially after all of the complaints this year about high ticket prices. If we want lower ticket prices, we need more available seats, if we want more seats, we need a bigger venue. That’s what we’re getting in Minnesota.

We’re wrestlers, we’re known for our resilience, fast decision making under duress, and mental and physical endurance. Let’s see what the NCAA comes up with before we injury default out.

For scale, here’s what two wrestling mats look like on a basketball floor.

One of the big topics being discussed is that the NCAA is selling tickets around the entire stadium, which indicates they do not plan to curtain off half the stadium. This is significant, because it means there will be a pretty substantial distance between fans in upper sections and the competition floor. Comments like “What if I’m in one corner, and my guy is wrestling on a mat all the way across the stadium? Am I allowed to move to seats that are closer to that mat?” I think these are legitimate questions that will be discussed over the course of the year.

We’re in an amazingly unique situation to observe this very stadium hosting a small floor-plan event, since the NCAA Basketball championship game will be held at US Bank Stadium on Monday (4/8/19). In prep of that, they have done some test events, where they hosted HS basketball in the stadium, they did use only half of the floor plan. Again, it does not appear this “half-floor plan” is going to be utilized for wrestling next year.

Here’s what a basketball court looks like on the stadium floor. You can use the scale above to get an idea of what eight mats might look like on the floor.
Here’s a view from the floor.

US Bank Stadium can put in more stands, and maybe NCAA wrestling is planning to do that, and sell the tickets later. This is one reason to consider not bailing on attending next year. It will be interesting to see what they plan to do for the wrestling finals, it may look more like what they are going to do for the basketball game on Monday.

Seating chart for the men’s basketball game with more seating on the stadium floor.
Another rendering of what the floor/stands will look like Monday night for the final basketball game..

I’ve mocked up what eight mats might look like on the floor, please note these are not to scale, but I have tried to make them as close as possible to the dimensions of the floor and the mats themselves. What I’m curious about is if they will push all eight mats together, like they do out of necessity in a hockey arena, or if they will separate the mats (and thus give photographers more shooting angles). That would get the mats closer to the audience, but in the case of the question above, if your seats are on one side of the stadium, and the mat you want to watch is on the other side, separating the mats will only increase that distance.

None of my drawings are exact, but here’s what eight mats pushed together might look like on the stadium floor.
Here’s what it may look like with the mats pulled apart a bit.

Again, I do not have any answers, but I wanted to share what I have found thus far. I’m looking forward to a packed stadium, with lots of cheaper tickets being sold, and lots of room for the media to work!

Limited room for media (photographers) means we have to work closely with the likes of this guy. ^^^^ No one needs that in their life. =)

About admin