Low ticket sales from Big Dance may affect U’s bonus

The Metrodome only filled about halfway to capacity for the NCAA tournament.

The University of Minnesota Athletics Department was hoping to see a $400,000 honorarium from hosting the NCAA menâÄôs basketball tournament, but that number might be unrealistic following the less-than-stellar ticket sales. Six of the eight sites hosting first and second round tournament matchups sold out, but those six locations had a smaller capacity than the Metrodome, which could hold between 27,000 and 30,000 for the event. However, the stadium was only filled halfway to capacity in each of the three two-game sessions. Each host school receives a percentage of the ticket sales from the NCAA for hosting a round of the tournament. For hosting the first and second rounds, the athletics department can receive up to 10 percent of the sales, which associate athletics director Marc Ryan said he was hoping would be about $400,000. The NCAA decides how much each school receives based on the atmosphere and competitive environment of each site. The final honorarium number will be decided by August 1 and goes to the athletics departmentâÄôs budget. âÄúThereâÄôs so many factors that go into it,âÄù he said. âÄúAt the end of the day you hope that you get not only a quality field of teams, and a competitive story line, but you also hope you have some regional teams.âÄù The teams sent to each site helps determine how many tickets are sold. The two closest teams that played at the Metrodome were North Dakota State University and the University of Kansas . Each school had the opportunity to sell 550 tickets, Ryan said, but KU and NDSU were the only universities that used all of their tickets. More than 16,000 people turned out to see the first session on March 20 featuring the NDSU-KU matchup. The second first round session had an attendance of about 12,600 and the second round session, with a game featuring national runner-up Michigan State University, drew more than 13,800 fans. Ryan said he thinks the department may not receive the full $400,000 because of the sales, but he said the University received great feedback from the NCAA about the event. The economy may have been a factor in ticket sales, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Director of Operations Dennis Alfton said. The University hosted a great event, but there were uncontrollable factors that affected sales, he said. âÄúWe were hoping for more people, but thereâÄôs a number of factors that come into play,âÄù Alfton said. Associate Director for Division I Men’s Basketball Championship David Worlock said it was unreasonable to expect the Metrodome or other locations with such high capacities to sell out for tournament games. Despite record ticket sales for the Final Four in Detroit and the play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, Worlock said the economy may have affected some of the sales overall. âÄúThe driving point is the interest of the championship,âÄù Worlock said. âÄúWeâÄôre happy with all of our different sites and how the tournament was run.âÄù