Fans should not expect to find "bargain basement prices" for the April 2 and 4 NCAA men's basketball Final Four at Reliant Stadium because the remaining field of 16 teams includes some of college basketball's "most successful teams and some of its most devoted fan bases," according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Prime Sport President Sam Soni, whose company is the NCAA's official ticket and hospitality vendor, said, "The field still seems to be intact for a great Tournament. Texas or Texas A&M would have brought another threshold of demand, but there are still teams playing that have significant support." Ticket Attractions CFO Jim Barr added that the "lure of Houston's first Final Four in 40 years will be enough to draw some fans regardless of who qualifies." Barr: "If you end up with Kansas and Ohio State, the market could shoot up. And if ... Richmond makes it here, it could be another matter. The important thing for us is that there has never been a national prime event in Houston in which the market has not held up. We don't get them that often, so people are anxious to be a part of it." Soni estimated that about 10-12% of tickets "wind up on the secondary market, which for Reliant Stadium would represent about 7,800 to 9,300 seats." Prime Sport operates the official secondary resale website, NCAA.OfficialTicketExchange.com, in conjunction with the NCAA, and as of Monday, "about 1,500 to 2,000 tickets were available" on the site. Prices Monday "ranged from a low of $333.33 for seats in Reliant's upper level end zones, behind the baskets, to a high of $7,083 for VIP midcourt seats." StubHub Corporate Communications Manager Joellen Ferrer said that "sales and prices are up from a year ago" on the company's site (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/23).
SMALLER STAGE: In New Orleans, Nakia Hogan noted members of the organizing committee for this week's NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional games at New Orleans Arena are "stopping short of calling the event a dress rehearsal for next year's Final Four" at the Superdome. While "operationally both events take a similar approach, the organizing committee said much more overall planning will take place for the Final Four." Committee co-Dir Vince Granito: "It's apples and oranges. The basketball part of it doesn't change. ... But then you have to add this other 75 percent of the universe of all the other things that go on around the Final Four that make it what it is" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 3/22).