Scramble for NCAA East Regional basketball tickets in full swing
Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 12:25 PM Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 12:32 PM
NEWARK — At the NCAA basketball tournament, the March madness isn’t limited to the court.
The $198 tickets — good for the three games over two nights — sold out months ago, but secondary sales are brisk and will probably outpace last year, industry executives say.
North Carolina Tar Heels fan John Haber is one of many alumni from the area trying to score seats for the weekend. An officer of the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Carolina alumni group, Haber said members were e-mailing and calling each other Monday in a frantic search for seats.
"I’m waiting to hear from some alum friends from Carolina," said Haber, a member of UNC’s Class of 1970 now living in Jersey City. "It’s so exciting."
Newark’s regional event is leading the other sites in both price and volume, according to secondary market executives. The reason: A combination of an improving economy, an exciting regular college basketball season, and an especially strong draw of teams for the East Regional.
"Newark is ahead of the others because of the success of the Big East, and the new building, which creates a better environment," said Sam Soni, president of PrimeSport, the NCAA-sanctioned vendor also offering hospitality packages for the tournament.
The brokers and resellers are ready. New Jersey broker Select-A-Ticket has a satellite office in the Gateway Center in Newark that has been buzzing for weeks. StubHub will set up a temporary box office at the Robert Treat Hotel for the weekend. And PrimeSport will be pushing both its hospitality packages and its Fan2Fan online exchange.
According to StubHub, sales are up 25 percent over this time last year. Monday’s average ticket price for a ticket to the Newark regional was $375, significantly more than the other three regional events: The average ticket price was $306 for Anaheim, $208 for San Antonio and $198 for New Orleans.
As of Monday, the most expensive tournament ticket sold on StubHub was $1,650 — for a lower level seat in Newark, a StubHub spokeswoman said.
There are 18,000 seats in the 3-year-old arena — home to the New Jersey Devils, the New Jersey Nets and the Seton Hall University Pirates — but many of the tickets never made it to the general public.
According to the NCAA, between 2,700 and 3,600 seats at Prudential are reserved for the fans of UNC, Marquette, Kentucky and Ohio State, the teams that will play for a spot in the Final Four in Houston.
Another 1,620 to 2,340 are held by the NCAA. Included in this group are an undisclosed number of "hospitality packages" — a deal that allows the athletic association to bundle a $198 ticket with two parties and charge a minimum of $725. The NCAA shares the additional revenue from these sales with its member organizations, according to its spokeswoman.
Other blocks are reserved for Seton Hall, the official host of the tournament, and for the Big East Conference. Finally, The Rock’s luxury box tickets were made available to the box owners first. That may turn out to be a good investment, since StubHub reported Monday a suite in Newark sold for $21,000 on Sunday.
Still, there will be tickets on the market, says Tom Patania, owner of Select-A-Ticket. The first wave will be now until game time Friday, when fans and alums like Haber will be trying to find a way in to the game. The second wave hits Friday night, when thousands of fans of the losing teams will be looking to unload their Sunday seats. Patania predicts the plaza outside the arena will be hopping with activity.
"We’ll be in acquisition mode," Patania said.