(CBS/TiqIQ) - When the Connecticut Huskies upset the #2 seed Villanova Wildcats to punch their ticket to the East Regionals at Madison Square Garden, ticket prices spiked to the point that it became the highest priced regional of the past four seasons since TiqIQ began tracking the market.
On the other side of the bracket, the Kentucky Wildcats have led the NCAA in college basketball home attendance for a number of years in a row now, and this season was no different.
With two passionate fan bases that travel well participating in this year's Final Four at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, it's no surprise that ticket prices are up quite substantially over past seasons.
The current average ticket price for a Final Four all sessions strip is $1,320.23, which reflects a 24.61% increase over Friday night's price of $1,059.49 since the participants were set. This is a substantial increase over last year's average price of $895.69, which was considered to be a high priced Final Four with prices boosted by Michigan's first Final Four appearance in about two decades.
Kentucky also appeared in the Final Four back in 2012 and 2011, but the mix of participants did not lead to the same type of ticket demand experienced this year.
In 2012, the Wildcats were joined in New Orleans by Louisville, Ohio State, and Kansas, with Final Four tickets selling for an average price of $822.53. The 2011 Final Four featured both Kentucky and Connecticut, but they were joined by mid-major programs VCU and Butler, so tickets were priced beneath those of this year at an average of $856.14. This year's all sessions get-in price of $336 is also the highest of the past four years.
While an all sessions pass has historically meant a discount from purchasing semifinals and National Championship tickets separately, this year that is not the case. For example, semifinals tickets last season were listed at an average price of $887.90, while championship tickets carried an average of $486.16. Savvy fans were essentially able to get championship tickets for free, saving an average of $478.37 by purchasing an all sessions strip. The same was true in 2012, when semifinals and championship tickets averaged $722.74 and $362.60, respectively, while an all sessions pass averaged $822.53 for savings of 24.2%. All sessions passes were discounted the least back in 2011 when Kentucky and Connecticut were both in the finals, but even then they carried a discount of about 6.1%. This year, fans are paying a premium of 0.5% to lock down an all sessions strip, as a result of the strong demand for any of the possible championship match ups.
As is often the case, semifinals tickets carry a higher price tag than championship tickets because of the ability to see two high quality games as opposed to one.
Semifinals tickets are up 20.51% since Friday night, currently checking in at an average of $741.22. While this is higher than 2012 and 2011, it is actually 16.5% beneath last year's semifinals price of $887.90. However, the difference is made up by championship tickets, which are averaging $571.35 and are up 17.5% over last year's average of $486.16 despite a slight decline of 2.87% since Friday night.
With prices high across the board, this may indeed be the year to lockdown a luxury suite. Jerry World was built with excess in mind, and one premier luxury suite for the Final Four currently runs $31,900. With each suite able to accommodate twenty people, that works out to $1,595 per person-- only a slight premium over the average all sessions pass.
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