Ticket Watch Comes in Fours Comment Count

Seth March 27th, 2018 at 4:27 PM

Final Four! Frozen Four! When to buy? What to buy? How to buy? Any tricks?

Final Four

Sorry this is coming out too late to be a part of the volatile part of the market. There was a point when Michigan and Loyola were the only two fanbases who knew they were going to San Antonio, and then prices shot up from $200 to $250 (official ticket exchange) the second Kansas and Nova fans got in (these are after-markup prices). The cheapest ticket to go by since I’ve been tracking this week is $120.

They’re at the high now and should stay that way until a fuzzy point tomorrow when UPS is no longer a good option. This restricts the salability of the tickets and the price starts coming down until gametime. Because of the nature of this beast a huge amount of tickets are bought on the secondary market, and with expensive flights booked there’s a lot of impetus for buyers to buy. Don’t buy at the high.

As the market’s settled down it’s formed into three price tiers:

  1. $I-Don’t-Care: Premium seats were purchased as soon as they went on sale by brokers looking to capitalize on the once-in-a-lifetime nature of great seats for a Final Four/Championship run. They were bought as session seats and are selling separately. The reasonable ones went right away so all that’s left are $3,000 moonshots that nobody will buy (about 110 seats like that on the market). WAIT on these. They’ll drop as gametime approaches—perhaps down to as little as $600 for Final Four.
  2. $Good seats: Once you’ve given up on being down low at half court there’s a middle tier that’s going for about $500 now and should come down to the $400s, but they’re also slowly disappearing from the bottom-up. Behind the basket and corner are the same—it’s just about what someone’s trying to offload. You can also find some club seats in this price level since the Alamodome has a ton of those.
  3. $Get me in the building: The cheap seats are all upstairs, either Upper Baseline or Plaza Level. They’re also available as mobile tickets so they’ll be trading right up to the finish line. These are moving at about $200-$250 though there are a bunch listed for more in better rows (saw four for $300 each in row 1 today). Right now you have more options where to sit—wait for a real person to put up a “sell now” and jump.

Note that season ticket holders got access to lower bowl seats for $385 face—I noted wryly that a bunch of seats went up for $1,385 on Sunday night.

The rows for the premium seats are a bit weird and you should pay attention so you’re not sold a seat 20 rows higher than it sounded like. Rows 1, 2, 3, and 4 are what they say on the tin, then it goes A-Z, then AA-QQ, then 20-35. So row “F” is 10th row, and “FF” is 36th row, and “Row 20” is really Row 47. Seating upstairs goes Row 1 to 28.

I pinged Ralph Garcia from TicketIQ for some history and he sent me a little data:

Year Metro AVG Get-In Quantity Teams
2011 Houston $595 $161 1,220 Butler, VCU, UConn, KY
2012 New Orleans $722 $190 1,854 KY, Lville, OSU, Kan
2013 Atlanta $887 $309 1,145 Lville, Wichita, Mich, Cuse
2014 Dallas $790 $199 5,689 UConn, Wis, Fla, KY
2015 Indianapolis $1,108 $290 6,803 Wis, Ky, Duke, MSU
2016 Houston $1,025 $239 1,966 Okla, Nova, UNC, Cuse
2017 Glendale $1,343 $214 1,813 Oregon, UNC, Zaga, SC
2018 San Antonio $1,036 $250 1,837 Nova, KU, Mich, Loy

The 2015 bump is because they dramatically raised the face price—that tends to set the market more than the teams in it.

Which fanbases are in can make a big difference (the 2014-’15 qtys are from when TicketIQ was an official resale partner I think). I don’t pay much attention to “average” price though that’s what the ticket resellers like to report. Michigan drove the 2013 prices, though that was the first trip in decades in a city filled with Michigan fans. This time I think it’ll be more in line with the Houston numbers—Michigan and Kansas fans are the big travelers in the bunch.

Championship Game?

For you Loyola fans, the good news is once you defeat Michigan there should be a lot of Michigan tickets for sale. Prices either drop 25% if the favorites make it in, or 50%+ if they don’t. More data from Ralph:

Year Metro AVG Get-In Quantity Teams
2011 Houston $316 $60 3,056 UConn, Butler
2012 New Orleans $362 $65 4,289 Ky, Kan
2013 Atlanta $468 $90 4,182 Lvill, Mich
2014 Dallas $426 $90 12,091 UConn, KY
2015 Indianapolis $761 $181 9,136 Duke, Wisconsin
2016 Houston $746 $102 4,562 Villanova, UNC
2017 Glendale $679 $133 2,930 Gonzaga, UNC
2018 San Antonio $619 $120 2,560 ???

Again you see when face value went up historically. The big takeaway here is don’t buy ahead—there are going to be some really big Nova or Kansas fans who bought awesome “both sessions” seats going home and putting these up for what they may. If you can’t get cheaper than what’s available, you can probably get better. Right now those are going in the $300s or $400s. But you can still shop for deals—I found a lower level right now for $357.

Craigslist after the first two sessions will light up like a pinball machine, and that’s a good starting point if you’re in San Antonio and sticking around a few days. WARNING for Craigslisters: the Spurs are one of a handful of teams that now use a terrible app called Flash Seats; sometimes that’s a good way to ID a real person but the reason they use it is the app has all its protections for the seller and not you. Note that their reviews are either real people with major complaints or good bot reviews.

If you’re in SA, keep in mind this isn’t like the last round, where few people flew in just for the second match. People will go to a championship game who didn’t go to a Final Four. So if you’re on the ground, take advantage by playing the people walking out of the building, and the types who’d love to meet on the way to the airport on Sunday.

This is one of those times when I think your seat does matter. You’re going to remember going to this game (when’s Loyola going back to the national championship game?) and the markup from getting in to getting down isn’t that huge unless you’re trying to sit in the lower bowl. Here’s where waiting to buy championship tickets also helps: if you don’t like your seat in the first game you’ve now had a night to suss out the place. Plus the seats that go on sale will be pretty random, whereas they’re being bought up in order of niceness/price.

Where the Maize People At?

Section 113-118 (southwest side) is Michigan’s allotment, so if you’re trying to sit near more Michigan fans your best bets are to sidle around that: 316, 318, 320, etc.

E-Ticket Situation

They do exist, but so far they’re a tiny part of the market, and marked up because of convenience.

Flight Situation

Flying to San Antonio is going to be a super premium right now. I personally find Texas very drivable despite the long distances—traffic jams up outside the main cities all the time but they’ve got wide and open freeways where the buffalos roamed, and you have to try really hard not to find an amazing barbecue joint en route.

Austin is just an hour and a half away. Corpus Christie is 2 hours. Houston is 3 hours and you go through a city named Flatonia.


The State of Texas (nisi Austin) is a hellscape of pavement with no parking that pays to host national events because that’s what passes for their tourism industry. This goes triple for San Antonio. The Alamodome is just off to the side of San Antonio’s main downtown area, across the freeway from the convention center. So it’s kind of like trying to park in Detroit for a World Series game if you just picture Comerica Park on other side of I-75. There are structures and adjacent lots that will be sold out, some parking lots in not-great neighborhoods behind, and lots and lots of downtown. Here’s a map of official alternative lots.

There is an Amtrak station just next door but note: the Amtrak station is not the giant beautiful “Sunset Station” train station. One day maybe I’ll tell you about how I tried to find the train station and wound up crashing an airline magnate’s son’s wedding.

Frozen Four

Thinking about making the run to Minneapolis? Tickets are going to be available for about $80-$100 for the ND game (one week from today) and probably drop to the $60s for the championship on Saturday. You’ll spend more getting there than getting in, and it’s a beautiful arena with no bad seats so if you’re going just get in.

Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights Seth?

If they put this game any time except when I have to lead a Passover Seder for both sides of extended family, deiyanu.


Big Boutros

March 27th, 2018 at 4:47 PM ^

I just want to say, and this seems like the right post to do it, that the experience in Los Angeles was nothing short of breathtaking. I would call it a "home game" but Crisler seats 14,000 and Staples seats 20,000 and everyone there was decked in maize and blue from head to toe. It was Home Game Plus.

This past Saturday was my birthday. I live in Los Angeles with my fiancee, who is Australian and has no prior knowledge or interest in basketball. We were able to attend both the Thursday and Saturday sessions at Staples and it was probably the most fun 72 hours of my life. By the time FSU forgot to foul and the last seconds ticked away, my fiancee had curled herself into a ball of nerves so tight that she was about to turn into a diamond.

I feel so thankful to everyone for such an incredible birthday weekend. To my fiancee and her supportive attitude, to the pep band that played us into the stadium, to John Beilein and the team for their amazing performance, and to the endless wave of Michigan fans that honestly helped win the game. I seriously believe this by the way. FSU had at least three shot clock violations and I think the cacophony of Michigan support had a lot to do with it.

I am approaching ten years of membership on this blog and I have gone from a college sophomore living in 232 Anderson to the adult-type substance that I am now. It has been so much fun sharing this journey with you all.


March 27th, 2018 at 4:53 PM ^

it is very much a get in the door ticket, upper deck behind a hoop but is an aisle

i am willing to let it sell it off  to a mchigan fan under what i paid, say $350

flash seats so it is a electronic and an easy transfer 


March 27th, 2018 at 5:12 PM ^

My son has a baseball game at the same time as the semi-final game. Thank goodness for DVRs. But I may bring noise canceling headphones to his game.
It's a dilemma for me. Do I wear my Michigan gear to celebrate the team and let people know I am a fan so they shouldn't tell me the score? Or am I just inviting people to share the score with me if I am wearing Michigan stuff?


March 27th, 2018 at 9:59 PM ^

I don’t wear M stuff if I’m in public and trying to avoid hearing about the game. Anybody can provide you clues you don’t want, be it a happy M fan approaching you or a rival idiot spoiling it.

I think headphones and no gear is a safer approach, but this isn’t a regular-season game; even casual basketball fans have interest. Good luck!


March 27th, 2018 at 5:22 PM ^

Corpus Christi has no 'e'.  I shan't discuss the religious implications of the misspelling. ;)

Laredo is also about two hours or so.  Brownsville, McAllen, and Harlingen -- the Rio Grande Valley -- are closer to 4.  All four of these cities have airports, as do Waco (3 hours), Killeen (about the same), and Bryan / College Station (about 3 1/2).  For Houston travelers, Hobby airport is going to be slightly more convenient than Intercontinental if you're driving to San Antonio immediately.

Airfare is priced by origin and destination, so it's entirely possilble for Flint - Detroit - Austin to be cheaper than Detroit - Austin nonstop, even though that makes little sense.

If you're driving into San Antonio from the north, slow down through Schertz and Selma as you approach the SA metro on I-35.  They're notorious for their speed traps.


March 27th, 2018 at 5:30 PM ^

Seth, what's your sourcing on the Frozen Four prices? I got in 2011 for $100 (face value) but that was because thousands of North Dakota fans were dumping tickets, and I didn't see much for cheaper. 

A hinge point will be the UMD game. They don't travel like North Dakota fans, but in 2011 I was surprised by how many people went down for the game. If they win, they'll be present in big numbers again; if they lose, tickets will be plentiful and cheap. A Michigan-OSU hockey final is a game a lot of people in Michigan should consider making the trip for.

Communist Football

March 27th, 2018 at 5:49 PM ^

Better food, cheaper airfares, and a relatively easy drive to San Antonio from there (an hour and a half or so, depending on traffic). 2 huge outlet malls in San Marcos halfway in between if that's your thing.


March 27th, 2018 at 5:51 PM ^

Everyone should be much more worried about hotel prices in SA than ticket prices. Hopefully you can find a friend to stay with or drive back up towards Austin afterwards.

I booked the JW Marriott for $200 Friday night, and the Omni for $170 Saturday night, both in downtown Austin (which are solid deals for the locations and quality). $70 hotels in SA are going for $300+ despite being shit-tier places to stay in terrible neighborhoods.

Gulo Gulo Luscus

March 27th, 2018 at 5:58 PM ^

Given the sell-off from Nova/Kansas losing fans after Saturday night, where do you expect championship tickets for lower bowl sideline prices to settle when buying on April 1? I'd like to avoid Craigslist/scalpers and buy on TicketIQ. Hoping to score something in the AA-QQ range between sections 110-114 or 132-136 if we win.


March 27th, 2018 at 6:09 PM ^

I can't base this on experience but if you want a decent view, I would avoid the end zone seats.  The basketball court on a football field puts the court basically between the 35 yard lines.  I would think watching the far goal from an end zone seat will be tough.  I personally would rather be in the 300 level in the center than the 100 level in the end zones.

JWG Wolverine

March 27th, 2018 at 6:58 PM ^

Thanks Seth for the “Where the Maize People At?” section! I feel like that’s a common question on the board and it would be great for that to be a mainstake in these ticket watch write-ups.

Correct me if I’m wrong about it being relatively new, but it’s a very helpful little blurb for a lot of us!


March 27th, 2018 at 7:07 PM ^

Does anyone know off the top of their head when the last time the F4 was played the same weekend as Easter?

I wonder if that will impact how many fans travel.


March 27th, 2018 at 7:10 PM ^

"For you Loyola fans, the good news is once you defeat Michigan there should be a lot of Michigan tickets for sale."
"You’re going to remember going to this game (when’s Loyola going back to the national championship game?)"
That's some baaad juju there.
Did Ralph write that?


March 27th, 2018 at 9:19 PM ^

As of about 5 hours ago, Loyola still had tickets available, but you had to call. Too many Michigan fans were buying their tickets online. Not sure if they still have them now, but it's worth a shot.


March 27th, 2018 at 9:33 PM ^

What is the best way to sell off the title game tickets? I have two in the Michigan lower bowl section. I have heard 3rd party vendors like stubhub set up temp locations so that you can hand them your hard ticket if you sell through them?


March 27th, 2018 at 9:49 PM ^

SH does set up Last Minute Service Centers where you can pick up/drop off hard copy tickets. Your selling post won’t go live until you turn in the hard copy tickets, IIRC.

I only have experience with this once, in Dayton for the First Four. I’m going to guess that at major events, this center is much closer to the venue. I’m also going to assume it will usually be a far better setup than the disgusting motel I had to go to.

You Only Live Twice

March 27th, 2018 at 9:47 PM ^

In Chicago right now... and there is Loyola/Sister Jean stuff all over downtown.  Only once did i hear anyone comment on it, giving me an opportunity to counter with "Go Blue!" only to be told... they were also from Michigan (he was wearing a Cubs hat)


March 27th, 2018 at 10:39 PM ^

I have a total of 5 tickets that I'm looking to sell. I am getting them all from will call so won't be able to get them to you until the day of. I have 2 tickets together in the Michigan section (113-118), 2 tickets together in the Loyola section (106-111), and a single ticket in the Loyola section (106-111). I'd love for the tickets to go to Michigan fans so if any of those are what you're looking for email me at [email protected].


March 28th, 2018 at 9:05 AM ^

I'll be watching the end of the damn game on my iphone while sitting at the Grand Ole Opry listening to country music, which I hate (except for old school real country like George Jones and Conway Twitty).  The things you do for love...  I can watch the first part of the game at a sports bar and hopefully it is "decided" before I have to go in for seating.