- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

The rush to get tickets to this weekend’s Final Four is turning into a mad scramble.

With the Georgetown Hoyas and three other prominent teams reaching college basketball’s biggest stage, fans are waiting in line, flooding phone banks and spending thousands of dollars for a chance to see the games live at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

“You’re going to see demand,” said Jennifer Swanson, a spokeswoman for online ticket reseller Ticketsnow.com. “You have four really great schools here, and those folks are going to travel.”

Sites like Ticketsnow.com and Stubhub.com are a popular choice for fans seeking tickets. Most tickets to Saturday’s semifinals and Monday’s final were sold nearly a year ago. Any additional seats made available through the participating schools — Ohio State, Florida and UCLA are the other teams — also are gone. These reselling sites allow fans with extra tickets to sell them to other fans.

The average sale price yesterday of a strip of tickets for all three Final Four games was $895 on Stubhub.com, up from $780 last year. Some premium seats are selling for more than $7,000.

Ticketsnow.com reported an average selling price of $1,492 for a ticket to the full Final Four sessions, up from $895 last year. Stubhub reported that gross sales for the Final Four have nearly doubled over last year.

“This year’s Final Four is a much bigger seller because of the teams involved,” said Stubhub spokesman Sean Pate, who noted that this year’s event could rank among the company’s all-time top sellers. “It’s skyrocketed.”

Rick Hall, a 1993 Georgetown graduate, paid an online broker nearly $11,000 for 16 tickets — $667 each — for himself and his friends earlier this week when it appeared they had missed out on buying tickets sold through the school.

Georgetown unexpectedly made several hundred more available later, leaving him with thousands of dollars worth of unwanted tickets. After a short period of consternation, Mr. Hall managed to sell 13 of the tickets and make most of his money back.

“It was an astronomical amount of money when you’re talking about a quantity of 16,” Mr. Hall said. “Would I jump the gun again? Yes. Would I buy that many seats? No way.”

Georgetown first put tickets on sale this week, but they were available to non-students only through a package from Dallas-based Anthony Travel that included hotel and airfare. The school began selling some tickets alone to the general public this week when Georgetown students did not purchase their full allotment.

Andrew Geiger, a 1999 Georgetown graduate now living in New York City, was one of the lucky few to buy tickets at the face value of $154 through the school, but it wasn’t as easy as making one phone call.

“It was sort of a coordinated attack, myself and four other people,” Mr. Geiger said. “We just kept calling and calling.”

Don Garrett, a 1998 Georgetown graduate friend of Mr. Geiger’s, said he found out the school would be distributing additional tickets through a friend employed by the school.

“It wasn’t the easiest thing during the first two days,” Mr. Garrett said. “Fortunately, I’ve had friends who had done this before, and I guess it was dependent on who we were associated with.”

Despite record high prices, ticket sellers said there are some inexpensive seats left in distant parts of the Georgia Dome that holds about 53,000 fans for basketball games. Stubhub.com and Ticketsnow.com both report some tickets selling for less than $70, for instance. And most sellers said fans will be able to get cheaper tickets on Sunday and Monday, as fans of teams that lose in the semifinals seek to recoup money.

“Two of those teams are going home disappointed, so you’re going to have a lot of tickets available come Sunday,” Mr. Pate said.

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