I don't think it should come as a surprise to anybody that UConn fans are coming out in force to see the Huskies play at Madison Square Garden in this weekend's East Regional, but if the ticket numbers are any indication, we could be looking at something totally next level.
According to a report released by SeatGeek yesterday afternoon, tickets to the East Regional at Madison Square Garden are the most expensive regional tickets on record since the site started keeping track in 2009, and UConn is the reason why. The average price for a full strip, which includes a ticket to both the Sweet 16 doubleheader on Friday and the Elite Eight game on Sunday, was $570, more than $100 higher than the next highest regional in Anaheim ($464).
Some noteworthy tidbits from the report:
- Prior to this year's games at MSG, the most expensive regional on record was the 2011 East Regional, which was also held in the NY/NJ area. A full strip to those games (Ohio State-Kentucky and UNC-Marquette in the semis followed by Kentucky-UNC in the final) at the Prudential Center in Newark went for an average of $480.
- Since UConn defeated Villanova on Saturday, more than 40 percent of traffic to SeatGeek's event pages for the East Regional has come from Connecticut. New York and New Jersey have accounted for another 30 percent of ticket shoppers, with the remainder split up among several states.
- Friday's doubleheader is the most expensive single-admission college basketball event MSG has ever hosted. Tickets for UVa-Michigan State and UConn-Iowa State are going for $355 each on average, coming in ahead of last year's Big East conference tournament semifinal doubleheader ($266 average ticket price), which featured the final Big East meeting between Syracuse and Georgetown as well as Notre Dame-Louisville.
- To put Friday's games in a wider MSG context, ticket prices are on par with those for the Knicks-Heat game on the eve of this year's Super Bowl ($373 average ticket price) and the Rangers' Eastern Conference Semifinal games against the Bruins last season ($381 average ticket price).
- The last time UConn advanced to the regional semifinals and final in 2011, a full strip for the games at the Honda Center in Anaheim went for an average of $436. Those high prices were driven mostly by the presence of local schools Arizona and San Diego State, who packed the house and made for an intimidating road environment for the Huskies. Tickets for the semifinal session that year cost an average of $265, and seats for the UConn-Arizona regional final went for $234 apiece.
- There are approximately 3,000 full strips for the East Regional available on the resale market, and the cheapest strip is a $420 seat in Section 309. Sweet 16 tickets on Friday night start at $316, and tickets for the regional final on Sunday can be had starting at $172 apiece.
Can you believe those numbers? Tickets are selling for almost $100 more than a regional that included Kentucky, UNC and Ohio State, and they're going for almost $100 more than a double-header that included Louisville and the final Big East meeting between Syracuse and Georgetown. You could buy four tickets to the Kentucky vs. Louisville Sweet 16 game this weekend for the price of one UConn ticket. THAT'S INSANE!
I hope the powers that be in college athletics take notice. UConn has often been panned in recent years for having stagnant attendance and for not traveling well (i.e. the Fiesta Bowl), but this should be a clear message that when the chips are down, UConn fans support their teams, both with their voices and with their wallets.
All of the latest information on prices and availability can be found on SeatGeek's March Madness page: http://seatgeek.com/events/march-madness/
Update: So according to Forbes, tickets to the East Regional are now going for more than the Final Four. Damn.