The 2013 NCAA Tournament may perhaps be one of the wildest in the event's 75 years of existence. We've all been witness to the No. 15 Seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles' success and two No. 1 Seeds fail to reach the Elite 8. The majority of the basketball world has watched in awe as these dedicated and passionate student athletes fight for victory on either CBS, TNT, TBS or truTV. In fact, According to Nielsen numbers CBS Sports and Turner Sports' coverage of March Madness "averaged a 6.3/14 overnight rating/share, the highest rating for the opening week of the NCAA Tournament in 23 years, when the tournament expanded to its current format."
But, what about seeing the games in person?
If you've attended the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament in year's past or this season, you know the buzzing excitement that fills every crevice of each arena. It's not just the brand of exciting basketball that is being played just feet in front of your face, but it's the speed of the day and volume of the atmosphere that makes March Madness truly eclipse other sporting events.
When the Tournament debuted in 1939, the men's basketball championship game was held in Patten Gym, an arena in Evanston, Ill. that seated just 1,000 people. Over the years, as the tournament's hype and impact on American culture has grown, so has its championship game's attendance. Eventually, the tourney's championship game moved to venues like Freedom Hall and Madison Square Garden that can seat around 19,000 fans.
Today, the NCAA has recognized the tourney's energy and, in recent years, has made an effort to allow as many fans to experience the championship weekend festivities. For the past several years, the Final Four and Championship weekend has been held in enormous football and baseball complexes all across the country in order to maximize attendance, allowing tens of thousands of fans to attend the games. And, 2013 will be no different.
Besides, morphing a football stadium into a basketball arena is American entertainment at it's finest!
Next weekend, the 2013 Final Four will be held at the Georgia Dome and the seating capacity is expected to range anywhere from 70,000-80,000. The attendance record for an NCAA men's basketball championship game was 72,922 back when the game was held at Detroit's Ford Field in 2009.
Now, how can one become apart of these fabled festivities?
The easiest way is to be a student of the participating universities. During the First Four in Dayton, schools were allocated approximately 200 tickets for students and members of their basketball programs. In the second and third rounds of the tourney this year, schools were granted 550 tickets per game.
But, if you're not in school, prepare to shell out some cash.
When Final Four tickets first hit the open market, prices were already pretty steep. And, now that the tournament has promised compelling and theatric play, prices of Final Four tickets will undoubtedly skyrocket.
Originally, of the 14,392 tickets that SeatCrunch.com, a ticket allocation site that provides fans an opportunity to both buy and sell tickets, the average ticket price for the Championship game was $616.89. If you want to just go to the Semifinals, you can get there for a much cheaper average $535.56 per ticket, according to the site.
What is truly incredible is the price many people will pay to be thousands of feet away from the game action. On Friday afternoon, before the Sweet 16 kicked off, SeatCrunch's NCAA Men's Final Four Page had tickets available in the upper-deck of the University of George football stadium for $218.00. And, crazily enough, SeatCrunch is also offering parking passes for the event for -- what is actually a great price considering the event -- $120.
If those numbers don't show how valuable and coveted Final Four tickets have become, what does?
Thus, as the NCAA Tournament celebrates its 75th anniversary with an eye-popping competition, the tourney's championship game has certainly come a long way from it's original 1,000 seat location.
Will you be there?