MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) In three weeks from tomorrow, the NCAA Final Four festivities tip-off in Minneapolis. There will be basketball, games and music, including a free concert by Katy Perry, who performs the night before the championship game — April 7 — at the Armory.

Katy Perry normally plays much bigger venues than the Armory. Organizers say the smaller indoor venue is a concession to potentially lingering winter weather, but that is the only event for the Twin Cities Final Four that is in any way scaled back.

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“We are three weeks out from the Final Four weekend. This is the fun part; all the planning is in place,” Kate Mortenson, CEO of the local Final Four organizing committee, said.

At the event headquarters, the pace is picking up as the countdown clock to the championship game ticks down. The local organizing committee is stressing that the Final Four isn’t just for those with game tickets; the four days around the game are filled with events and many are free, starting with Fanfest at the Convention Center.

“The first part of Friday is really for the locals, where they have free access to U.S. Bank Stadium, and they can see something they may never see again, which is the stadium transformed,” Mortenson said.

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Nicollet Mall, from 8th and 12th Streets, may be waterlogged at the moment, but in three weeks it will be packed with food stalls and games. On 10th Street and Nicollet there will be a 90-foot Ferris wheel, and on 11th Street (right outside WCCO-TV studios) there will be a concert stage that will also be the site of a second trophy presentation after the championship game.

On Sunday, there will also be a free dribbling parade around the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“This is for 3,000 youth. Everyone gets a free basketball, a free T-shirt, and parents cheer the kids on,” Mortenson said.

Because the Katy Perry event is sponsored by Capitol One, that business’s credit card holders can register early, starting on March 19. Everyone else can register starting on March 22. Other headliners at the Armory will be announced in the coming days.

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