The Final Four is a business. It is a big business with corporate sponsors, local hotels, restaurants, and yes, even ticket brokers, relying on it for a living. And, while we are watching the culmination of a three-week long dream run for college kids chasing their place in history, March Madness is an economic windfall for TV, corporations, powerful alumni organizations, and the local economy where the games are held. There is only one way the average fan can get tickets at a reasonable price:
For all her charm, Cinderella doesn't "travel well." Schools like Butler don't travel well. Neither does VCU. Indiana, on the other hand, does travel well. What does that really mean? Teams that travel well have the ability to move big economic numbers. They sell out room blocks and buy ticket strips weeks and months in advance. Schools like North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA and Kansas have large national fan bases, deep in boosters and powerful alumni who travel wherever the team goes and gobble up tickets.
What happens when one of these schools gets knocked off by little old VCU? There's a domino effect undoing months of spending and years of planning by the big guys. That translates into helping the average fan get cheaper tickets.
There is $20 billion spent annually on corporate sports ticket programs and March Madness accounts for a significant chunk of that. Sponsors and alumni spend the season planning a run from the big schools. But when Cinderella beats them, their fans head for the exits where they start selling tickets, canceling hotel rooms for the following weekend and cratering the secondary ticket market.
Even before the Final Four, check out one of the tournament sessions where games are sold in "strips," allowing customers to buy tickets for the whole weekend, and you will see this effect in action. Fans can stand by the exits after the first game and they will see droves of people covered in merchandise of the losing team selling their tickets.
It is such a common occurrence there are no fewer than a hundred ticket brokers waiting outside the exits at the Final Four with cash in hand ready to buy tickets for a fraction of what the fan had paid.
As for the hotels, motels, restaurants and transportation, with tons of cancelled reservations prices begin to drop making it possible for fans on a budget to have a grand time.
Cinderella makes for a terrific story. She doesn't, however, make for big business and that can get you cheaper tickets.
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