Gonzaga will play for its first-ever national title on Monday night, but the allure of potentially witnessing history apparently isn’t enough to entice Zags fans to make the 2,000-mile trek to Indiana, which has played host to the entire NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the last three weeks.
According to SeatGeek, only 5% of Final Four weekend traffic has come from the state of Washington. On the other hand, Texas, the home state of Waco-based Baylor, leads site traffic.
Local Hoosier State fans, even without a dog in the fight, are capitalizing on the diminished interest, tied with Texas for the largest visitor segment by state. Indianapolis itself makes up the largest metro in the geo-data. The trend mirrors what happened on the women’s side, where Texas drove the vast majority of site traffic for the San Antonio-based championship.
Neither of the men’s finalists is based closer than a 15-hour drive from Indianapolis (the trek from Spokane would be closer to 30 hours). The numbers reflect a hesitance to travel, even to an event adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols. Championship game capacity at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium is capped at 8,300, or about 22% of the 39,000 seats in the half-stadium section used for the court. Despite the limited sales for Monday night’s much-anticipated matchup, seats are still available.
Lukewarm demand also hasn’t done much for prices. The Gonzaga-Baylor showdown will feature two of this season’s most dominant teams and still, starting prices for seats at the title clash have dropped by almost 50% since Friday (when Houston and UCLA were both still in the mix) on ticket app Gametime.
On Friday, seats for Monday’s championship started at $616 on Gametime; by Sunday night, “get in” prices for remaining tickets sat at $336. Top priced tickets also dipped, though less substantially.
Ticket sales tend to be a more supplemental tournament revenue stream for the NCAA even in a non-COVID year, when overall men’s tournament attendance fluctuates between 650,000 and 800,000.
The NCAA doesn’t release ticket revenue specifics, but the organization did bring in more than $177 million in ticket, concessions and other tournament revenues across all of its championship events in 2019, according to financial documents. A large chunk of that nine-figure payout likely comes from the men’s tournament, but the NCAA’s biggest moneymaker is still the lucrative CBS/Turner television deal, intact for 2021.
Sportico will be publishing one short business highlight every weekday (and on some weekend days) during the three-week NCAA tournament.
March 20: Men’s vs. Women’s NCAA Tournament Money
March 21: Indexing the NCAA’s Corporate Sponsors
March 23: As Top Seeds Lose, Sportsbooks Win
March 24: #NotNCAAProperty Reaches Millions Online
March 26: Loyola’s Rambling Flutie Effect
March 30: Odd Start Times A Result of Cash Crunch