Final Four! Frozen Four! When to buy? What to buy? How to buy? Any tricks?
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:
- $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.
- $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.
- $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:
|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.
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:
|2012||New Orleans||$362||$65||4,289||Ky, Kan|
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.
They do exist, but so far they’re a tiny part of the market, and marked up because of convenience.
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.
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.