Selection Sunday has passed, the first round is complete, and our brackets are locked in. Now it’s time to watch the Nation’s best basketball programs compete on their road to the Final Four. Do you have Florida winning their third Championship in nine years? Who are your upsets? Will the star freshmen steal the show or will the teams of tourney vets make up most the One Shining Moment highlight reel? On the first day of second round play, we take a look at the cost of NCAA Tournament tickets and the madness that is scoring the best seats when your team survives and advances.
NCAA Tournament Tickets – Second-Third Rounds
The hottest second and third round tickets (based on the average All-Session price) are Buffalo (avg. $614), San Diego (avg. $463), and Orlando (avg. $448); no surprise considering the Cities will host nearby Syracuse, UCLA, and Florida respectively. The Orange are not the only school within driving distance to the City either – Saint Josephs, Villanova, and the Ohio teams all relatively close by. Also, based on the number of Wildcat fans at the Pac-12 Tournament, it’s fair to say Arizona is willing to travel; this, contributing to the high-demand of tickets in Southern California. St. Louis has the next most expensive NCAA Tournament tickets in the second and third round (avg. $435). Wichita State, Kansas, and Kansas State are a car ride away with fanbases that are willing to make a six-hour trip to watch their consistently polished teams in March.
The most expensive second round tickets are Session 1: Arizona vs. Weber State, Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State in San Diego (avg. $241) and Session 1: Baylor vs. Nebraska, Creighton vs. La.-Lafayette in San Antonio (avg. $221). Baylor Bear fans are driving (literally) the price of tickets up – San Antonio Session 2 the same day is a much more reasonable $171 average.
To note, 80 percent of second and third round tickets last year were bought from addresses in the state of the host City. In other words, locals and nearby participating schools affect the demand, and therefore the price, of NCAA Tournament tickets.
NCAA Tournament Tickets – Sweet 16, Elite 8
UPDATE (3-24): The Sweet 16 schedule is set and after numerous upsets, NCAA Tournament ticket prices have radically changed. Ticket prices in the East (17%), Midwest (80%), and West (16%) Regional have all seen a jump since the second round started.
No longer the cheapest of the Regional sites, Indianapolis saw the biggest change in ticket prices. No surprise considering the last two National Champions and heated rivals Louisville and Kentucky will play in the Sweet 16 here. Their regular season matchup (avg. $848) was the most expensive non-conference game this year; it is actually 52% cheaper to see the Battle for the Bluegrass in Indiana than it was to catch the December 28 meeting in Lexington. Couple that with the fact that all four Universities are within a 5 hour radius and a short road trip away from Indy and two of last year’s Final Four contestants (Louisville, Michigan) are participating, and you have $289 average price increase for All-Session tickets.
The South Regional was the only Sweet 16/Elite 8 site to see a decrease in the average price of All-Session tickets. No.2 seeded Kansas and No.3 seeded Syracuse were upset in the third round. Memphis is left with a premier matchup in Florida and UCLA (the Gators have eliminated the Bruins in 2006, 2007, and 2011 from the NCAA Tournament) but without any “local” teams (SF Austin, Tulsa, Kansas, E. Kentucky).
The East Regional remains the most expensive ticket on the secondary market. Not only will games be played in the “best gym in America” that is Madison Square Garden, but close by No.7 seeded Connecticut is part of the field after defeating Villanova in the third round. While Huskies fans near the University will make a 2.5 hour drive, Virginia fans are a doable car ride away too (approx. 6 hours). In addition, sports-loving NYC fans will be treated to the No.1, No.3, and No.4 seeds in the East; that includes Michigan State who many have taking it all.
ORIGINAL (3-20): New York sports fans are being treated to the best events of the year. In February, East Coasters flocked to the first outdoor Super Bowl despite the frigid temperatures. They were willing to bear the freezing cold to watch The Big Game for the first time in their neighborhood, ever (New Jersey became just the tenth state to host a Super Bowl). Roughly two months later, the “Mecca of Basketball” will host Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games for the first time since 1961. While the East Regional boasts the most expensive tickets of the round, prices have dropped 20 percent since Selection Sunday. Syracuse, not long ago a shoe-in for the East Regional, dropped five of their last seven regular-season games and as a result, was awarded a No.3 seed in the South. No. 2 seeded Villanova, who exited their Conference Tournament early, are the “local team” expected to play the World’s Most Famous Arena come time for the Sweet 16.
The cheapest Regional on the secondary market, is the Midwest (Indianapolis) which could see the nation’s lone undefeated team in Wichita State, the defending national champion Louisville, Michigan, Duke, Kentucky (No.8), or St. Louis (No.5). You read that right, that’s three of four of last year’s Final Four participants in the same region. If you believe that a coaches’ experience in the postseason has a large part in the advancement of a team, consider this: six coaches (three rings) in the Midwest have Final Four experience. So why then, are Midwest Regional tickets so cheap?
The excitement of the tournament coming to New York City for the first time in 53 years and the historic basketball venue at which games will be played, has the nation’s wealthiest state driving up the price of tickets. Opposite, Indianapolis was selected to host back-to-back Midwest Regionals with 2014 marking the 21st time the tourney will be held in the NCAA’s hometown. Unlike the second and third round, prices are not affected by the (assumed) participating schools, but instead by the location. With that, there’s no predicting which No.1-4 seeds will be knocked out of tournament play in the first two rounds. Heck, the first game of the tournament was an upset that broke 81 percent of ESPN brackets.
|Date||NCAA Regional Tickets – Sweet 16, Elite 8||Avg.||Cheap Ticket|
|03/28/14||East Regional – New York City – All Sessions||$849.56||$312.00|
|03/28/14||East Regional – New York City – Session 1||$586.53||$189.00|
|03/30/14||East Regional – New York City – Session 2||$586.36||$166.00|
|03/28/14||Midwest Regional – Indianapolis – All Session||$360.33||$104.00|
|03/28/14||Midwest Regional – Indianapolis – Session 1||$233.50||$73.00|
|03/30/14||Midwest Regional – Indianapolis – Session 2||$193.09||$48.00|
|03/27/14||South Regional – Memphis – All Sessions||$444.88||$152.00|
|03/27/14||South Regional – Memphis – Session 1||$265.73||$81.00|
|03/29/14||South Regional – Memphis – Session 2||$211.87||$85.00|
|03/27/14||West Regional – Anaheim – All Sessions||$518.67||$201.00|
|03/27/14||West Regional – Anaheim – Session 1||$404.94||$117.00|
|03/29/14||West Regional – Anaheim – Session 2||$350.73||$98.00|
NCAA Tournament Tickets – Final Four
UPDATE (4/1): The Final Four is set and the price of tickets have dropped since the start of the NCAA Tournament. The average price of an All-Session pass ($1004) is down 8% in the last 12 days and the cheapest ticket to catch all three games is $260. With that, semifinals prices have dropped 17% (avg. $563) and championship game tickets are down 26% (avg. $481). With a seating capacity of 80,000 at AT&T Stadium and the supply of tickets still in the thousands, expect prices to fall even more this week.
Dallas is centrally located for the Final Four teams – Florida, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Kentucky – with the travel being least cumbersome for Wildcat fans in Lexington. UK has been playing some of its best basketball of the year, peaking at just the right time to defeat three of last year’s Final Four participants in Wichita State, Louisville, and Michigan. SEC fans would like to see a Florida vs. Kentucky rematch in the Championship game – would the Wildcats who are 0-3 against the Gators this season, pull off the ultimate upset? But, first both Conference foes will face two strong competitors; Florida matching up against Connecticut who handed the Gators their last loss (12/2). And, the top-ranked recruiting class against Wisconsin who is led by coaching giant, Bo Ryan. The Badgers displayed their competitive spirit against Arizona alongside their near flawless offense and behind rising star Frank Kaminsky. Don’t assume that the only No.1 seed left in the NCAA Tournament, Florida, has the easiest road either. Potentially playing both UConn and Wisconsin, they could face the only two teams they’ve lost to in their 2013-14 campaign.
ORIGINAL (3/20): Will Louisville cut the nets for the second straight year? Can Wichita State shock the world in back-to-back years? The President has two No.1 seeds (Florida and Arizona) and two No.4 seeds (Louisville and Michigan State) headed to the Final Four.
Final Four prices have a similar trend to that of Super Bowl tickets. The participating teams (unless local) will not significantly drive ticket prices. Instead, fans of college basketball (in general) are seat holders with many snatching up tickets before the Final Four teams are even determined. It’s about the experience, not necessarily the teams. Ticket sales are largely made to locals (in this case, Dallas); last year, 37% of Final Four tickets were sold to Georgia addresses (additional 9% sold to Florida addresses).
At this time last year, Final Four tickets averaged $1,173 and dropped to $958 the day before Louisville, Wichita State, Michigan, and Duke took the floor.
|Date||Final Four Tickets||Avg.||Cheap Ticket|
|04/05/14||All Sessions Tickets||$1,096.10||$404.00|
|04/05/14||Semifinal Game Tickets||$681.77||$225.00|
|04/07/14||Championship Game Tickets||$650.29||$202.00|