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March 27, 2004

Tickets, Tickets, Who Gets The Tickets?

FROM THE SOMETIMES ZANINESS OF THE SUPPLY-AND-DEMAND MARKETPLACE come this year’s versions of the facts, foibles and follies associated with the rituals of ticket disbursement for the NCAA basketball tournament.

Starting with the facts:

• CBS has paid $6 billion (that’s with a “b”) for rights to multi-sport NCAA championships over the next 11 years

• The NCAA derives $26 million annually in ticket revenue from the men’s tournament each year

Specific to the East Rutherford Regional, here’s how tickets are distributed:

• Continental Arena capacity is 19,557

• Each of the four teams get 1250 tickets each

• CBS gets 2000

• New Jersey Sports Authority gets 1000

• Rutgers University (co-host university) gets 1000

• Seton Hall University (co-host university) gets 1000

• Miscellaneous (bands, cheerleaders, media, mascots, etc.) get approximately 1800

• The general public gets 8000—which are sold by lottery at $124 per ticket

From this orderly start unfolds an unwieldy bazaar in which tickets change hands—sometimes at several multipliers of the face value—in an up-and-down underground auctioning process.

Often the value of tickets can double and triple--and more--in just a few minutes as the fate of a fans’ favorite team unfolds real time in a qualifier game. And everything gets exaggerated when a low-seeded team survives a round or two further than anyone could have ever thought.

Then, timing is everything and the ticket-sellers command huge premiums on their inventory.

(this excerpt was drawn from an article in the New York Times of 3-27-04)