NCAA Tournament at Ball Arena? Sold out. If you want taste of March Madness in Denver, prepare for Spring Sticker Shock first.
If you want tickets to the first taste of men’s basketball March Madness along the Front Range in seven years, best be prepared for some Spring Sticker Shock first.
Mountain West officials told The Post late last week that the NCAA men’s basketball tournament games at Ball Arena have been sold out for months — and that it was one of the first sites to do so.
“By the end of January, we had (fewer) than six tickets left,” said MW associate commissioner Javan Hedlund, who served as media coordinator when the league hosted NCAA games at Ball Arena/Pepsi Center in 2016, ’11 and ’08. “Every time we’ve been (the host), Denver has been one of the first to sell out. It wasn’t (first) this year, but we were still one of the first.”
If there’s a sliver of hope left for fans, it’ll come after 5 p.m. Tuesday. That’s the deadline for the eight schools assigned to Ball Arena to commit to their ticket allotment for the site.
Any tickets returned will be posted for sale via Ticketmaster.com, Hendlund said, adding that the conference doesn’t expect a large return going back on the open market.
“It really comes down to who’s in our venue,” Hedlund said.
So who’s coming?
The country’s two leading Bracketologists, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, had their projections for the Denver site — which hosts first-round games Friday and the second round on Sunday — in lockstep on at least three fronts going into the weekend.
First, that Ball Arena will host at least one No. 2 seed.
Second, that the aforementioned No. 2 seed will either be Big 12 powers Texas, Baylor, or possibly both.
And third, that former Big 12 member Missouri, now of the SEC, could be assigned to the Front Range, too. Palm had Mizzou as a No. 6 against 11th-seeded Pitt while Lunardi projected the Tigers as a No. 7 seed against 10th-seeded Boise State.
Welcome back, Big Dance
This weekend marks the 10th time Denver has hosted the Big Dance since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and the fifth time since 1999 the metro has been home to the first two rounds of March Madness. Ball Arena is also slated to host the tourney’s opening weekend in 2025.
No. 10’s been a long time in coming — Ball Arena had been slated to host the first and second rounds of the men’s hoops tourney in 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic wiped previous contractual arrangements off the board.
Seeking a “bubble” similar to the ones fashioned by the NBA and NHL once those sports resumed play in late 2020, the NCAA moved all 67 of its tourney games two years ago to sites in and around Indianapolis.
The organization had been forced to cancel the 2020 tourney entirely as it coincided with the virus’ emergence on American shores, shutting down nearly every major North American sport for months.
Secondary market isn’t kind, either
Per StubHub.com, the lowest single-seat price as of early Friday morning for an all-session ticket was $297 before fees. The cheapest Session 1 ticket was listed at $92 before fees; the lowest Session 2 price was $105.
Sunday’s “get-in” price for the second round games as of early Friday started at $111 before fees.
“Denver’s always been a really hot city when it comes to the NCAA Tournament,” Hedlund said.
“We could get anywhere from 25 to 100 tickets (back) … you just never know. Sometimes, even a smaller school, if they made it for the first time, they sell their (tickets) out. It really depends on who’s in and who takes their allotment.”
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