Demand for floor seats and suites at the NCAA men's basketball Final Four in Indianapolis remained strong Tuesday, but ticket brokers said pricing has cooled in recent days for more-distant seats in the 43,000-seat RCA Dome.
"Prices are down by 20% to 30% since last week, when we didn't know who was going to be in the Final Four," said Dave Lord, chief executive of Razor Gator, a Los Angeles-based online ticket broker. Razor Gator expects another pricing dip later in the week when students at Final Four schools start to push their tickets into the resale market.
San Francisco-based Stubhub.com also reported strong demand for pricier seats -- the company recently sold one ticket to the championship game for $4,815 -- and high-end hospitality packages. But prices for tickets in the nosebleed sections "are really coming down," said Stubhub.com spokesman Sean Pate. "Some tickets for Monday night's championship game are at $98. That tells me demand is not there for lower-cost seats."
Brokers tied stalled demand to the absence of No. 1-seeded teams in the Final Four. Though George Mason offers a compelling story line for fans who will watch on television, the Cinderella team's alumni ranks are no match for the army of fans that marches on the host city when a Duke, Connecticut or Kentucky appears in the Final Four.
The resale market could bode well for UCLA fans hoping to make the trek. UCLA's ticket office expected to quickly unload the 3,750 tickets that went on sale Sunday to season-ticket holders. The ticket window reopened Tuesday because the university still had some of the $170 face value tickets available.
"It's been a relatively slow process compared to 1995," said Ken Weiner, the university's senior associate athletic director. That's when the Bruin fans made the relatively easy trip to the Final Four in Seattle.
This time, potential ticket buyers have had to put UCLA's ticket office on hold until they could obtain airplane tickets, hotel accommodations and rental cars.
Ticket sellers report strong interest in more expensive packages. UCLA is offering $2,000 bundles that include transportation, hotel accommodations and game tickets. The NCAA for the first time is offering corporate packages that include tickets, accommodations, transportation and pre- and post-game access to an on-site lounge at the RCA Dome. The most expensive NCAA package -- the President's Club -- will cost $55,000 for 10 fans.
NCAA Vice President Greg Shaheen said the packages are part of an attempt to ensure that more of the profit generated by the tournament "goes to the universities and colleges rather than some third party."
Shaheen also said that the NCAA continues to monitor the ticket resale market: "We're taking a variety of steps to identify and crack down on those who've misused this opportunity" by re-selling their tickets at a profit.
Fans who miss this year's Final Four still have a few weeks to apply for tickets to the 2007 NCAA Final Four games to be held at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. The application deadline for the 10,000 tickets is May 31. Ticket prices will be $124 for "distant" seats and $154 for seating closer to the action.