Ticket demand swamps supply

The University reserved 50 of its 850 Final Four tickets for students.

Requests for NCAA women’s basketball Final Four tickets poured Wednesday into the University’s ticket office as fans hurried to make plans for the tournament in New Orleans.

The NCAA gave each university in the Final Four 850 ticket packages, which include admission to both semifinal games Sunday and the championship game Tuesday.

The New Orleans Arena seats approximately 18,000 people.

The University’s allotment includes tickets for University officials and players’ families, said Athletics Director Joel Maturi. Remaining tickets were sold to season ticket holders, but Maturi said the University could not meet all requests.

“I guarantee they’ll all be sold,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re not allowed to have any more and there will be a lot of people who will not be able to get tickets.”

The ticket office began receiving phone calls Tuesday night and requests came in all day Wednesday, said Dan Teschke, the University’s ticket manager.

“Demand is exceeding supply,” he said midday Wednesday.

The ticket office set a 5 p.m. request deadline, at which time it had received approximately 800 requests from season ticket-holders, said Lonie Dorholt, assistant ticket manager.

The ticket office planned to inform recipients via e-mail late Wednesday night.

Ticket priority was given to season ticket-holders who attended last week’s Mideast Regional in Norfolk, Va. Tickets then went to other season ticket-holders based on how long they have owned tickets, with random selection breaking any ties.

There are approximately 150 student season ticket-holders, Teschke said. The University reserved 50 Final Four tickets for students, he said.

The tickets cost $130 each plus $5 for handling charges. The athletics department must pay full price for all tickets it uses, Maturi said.

Creative Charters of Lake Elmo, Minn., which is planning trips to the Final Four, was also flooded with phone calls.

“The phone started ringing early this morning and hasn’t stopped,” co-owner Dorothy Erban said Wednesday afternoon.

Creative Charters offers a travel package including round-trip airfare, hotel and transportation to games for $669 to $799. The package does not include Final Four tickets.

Creative Charters co-owner Steve Erban said he expects 400 to 600 people to book the trip.

A Northwest Airlines spokeswoman said flights from Minneapolis to New Orleans this weekend are “very full,” but could not attribute that to the Final Four. Spring break could also be a factor, she said.

Approximately 600 Minnesotans made the trip to Norfolk for the Mideast Regional.

The University is flying 150 people to New Orleans, including officials, players, band members and cheerleaders. The NCAA pays for the two charter flights and gives the University $150 a day per person for food and lodging, Maturi said.

The NCAA assigns the University’s hotel and rooms cost $200 a night, Maturi said.

Despite making it to the Final Four, Maturi said the University will lose money on the tournament.

“We’re not going to lose tens of thousands,” he said, “but we’re not going to make any money on the women’s NCAA Final Four.”