Final Four budget tracker
Here’s how New Orleans hotel and plane ticket rates, and availability, changed between Monday and Tuesday afternoon:
• Game tickets: Monday’s lowest price for one ticket for the three-game package on StubHub.com was $175. That had increased to $299 by Tuesday.
• Plane tickets: On Monday, a survey of several plane ticket websites listed tickets — leaving Friday and returning Tuesday — starting at $1,200. One site had the cheapest tickets Tuesday at about $1,900, while another had only two tickets left at $1,200, and then a jump to $1,700. Travelers can find cheaper rates if they leave Kansas City on Thursday.
• Hotels: On Monday, a search on Hotels.com showed the cheapest nightly rate in New Orleans at the Maison St. Charles Quality Inn & Suites for $299. Many hotels are requiring a four-day stay, which would cost about $1,200 at the Maison. On Tuesday, the Maison was sold out, and the next cheapest hotel was the Le Pavillon Hotel at $525 per night. A four-day stay? $2,100.
Huddled in front of a computer in New York City, Myles Kaufman, data analyst for the sports ticket website SeatGeek.com, has been busy crunching numbers figuring out the current rate for prized Final Four tickets.
It changes by the hour.
Since Friday, Kaufman said the daily average for the two-game ticket package — which includes everything from courtside to the nosebleed section — has shot up more than 85 percent, to $521.
As of Tuesday afternoon, thrifty ticket-buyers could still get seats for about $300 on SeatGeek.com, which is one of a number of sites that offer ticket-seekers a safe way to buy unwanted tickets.
Kaufman and his data team have also looked at trends in ticket prices from last year, and said this year’s Final Four tickets are going for about $100 more than last year’s.
Sam Soni, president of primesport.com — the NCAA’s official ticket-purchasing partner — said they’ve also seen a spike in price this year, something he attributes to the teams represented in the Final Four.
“Four big schools, four big basketball traditions,” said Soni, adding that their hospitality packages, which include food, drinks and entertainment, are going for up to 40 percent more this year than in 2011.
Final Four tickets that aren’t reserved for coaches and the participating schools originally sell for as low as $200, Kaufman said. People buy early, but later decide to sell when their teams don’t make it to the final weekend of the college basketball season.
With ticket-buying sites, it’s then up to the free market and supply and demand, Kaufman said.
So for KU fans still looking to make the trip to New Orleans, is it better to buy now, or wait?
Depends how much of a risk-taker you are, Kaufman said.
The $521 daily average is probably as high as it’ll be, he said, as people begin backing out of their plans, or find they can’t afford plane tickets and hotel rooms. But he advises making the safe bet and “book as soon as possible.”