March 30, 2010
Final Four tickets, Spartans fans? It's probably too late, unless you're willing to pay
By: Greg Johnson
Michigan State fans thinking Indianapolis is only a five-hour or so road trip, and wondering if any NCAA tournament Final Four tickets remain, are likely pondering too late.
That is, unless they want to risk buying counterfeits, being duped by bogus Internet scams that promise tickets that don't exist or plan to put up hundreds of dollars for the limited number of packages still available through legitimate brokers and buy-sell ticket sites.
Some fans found they purchased counterfeit tickets last year when Detroit hosted the Final Four at Ford Field, Detroit police reported, where Michigan State played in both a semifinal and the national title game.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller recently wrote a column on nwi.com, a regional Indiana Web site, warning basketball fans in his state about potential scams. He said the problem has happened in Detroit as well as other previous sites of the Final Four and Super Bowl, including Indianapolis.
"Be sure this doesn't happen to you -- buy from reputable sources and know what to look for on the ticket," he wrote.
Final Four tickets have a security mark that can't be reproduced according to the NCAA. That leaves one sure option: buy only through the NCAA or participating schools. The NCAA has lotteries for Final Fours, but only the 2011 event is available for entry at this time.
The 2010 Final Four public tickets were sold out (24,000 offered through the lottery drawing at prices between $150 to $300 for all three games) by June 2009. The remaining tickets are sold to various marketing, sponsor and vendor partners over a year in advance or via annual contracts.
The NCAA has sanctioned ticket and hospitality providers called Primesport and RazorGator. Monday's last-minute offerings were limited ($341 per person for terrace level/upper-deck tickets for the three games). Lodging downtown usually is part of the packages.
Michigan State announced Sunday that its allotted 3,640 tickets the NCAA saves and provides the participating teams for its fans will not go before a public sale. They will be offered to "the official travel party," which includes university administrators, donors and sponsors. Also, 660 students (special student admissions), who are season-ticket holders via the popular "Izzone" student section, will have the chance to purchase tickets.
Popular Web sites offered various prices Monday, including stubhub.com, which had single tickets starting at $294 and packages starting at $1,025 per person; ticketcity.com
, which had a single ticket for the semifinals for $194 and a single ticket for all the games at $260; and ticketsolutions.com, which had single tickets starting at $295 for all three games, and starting at $320 per ticket for two seated together.
Prices escalated for more than two seated together on several sites, and various packages also were listed at well over $1,000.
Butler University, Michigan State's opponent in the semifinal game Saturday, is located in Indianapolis. Butler announced Monday it is offering its allotment of tickets to its season-ticket holders, donors and sponsors through the school's ticket office.
"Scalping" tickets is always an option, but note that with a local team involved "scalping" prices of legitimate tickets could continue to rise.
Scalping is not illegal in Indiana, but a Marion County (Indianapolis) ordinance caps the resale of a ticket at $10 above face value, according to the state attorney general's office. The face values of tickets for the Final Four are between $150 and $300 (for all three games).
Marion County requires those selling the tickets to have a peddler's license, which costs $20.
During the recent Big Ten tournament, Indianapolis police reported handing out more than 20 citations to people selling tickets without a peddler's license. Police told the Indianapolis Star newspaper that ticket patrols were part of the increased police presence for the event, and that a plan is in place for the Final Four, too.