Attending the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four has been a dream of mine since I was about 12 years old. It was a bucket-list item on my non-existant bucket-list. When I heard the NCAA offers tickets at face value through a lottery system, I fronted the $760 for four $190 tickets plus the non-refundable $20 fee for the chance at a once-in-a-lifetime trip. When I got the email notification that my application had been successful, I was ecstatic. When I got the email notification of where I’d be sitting, 3 words came to mind: What. The. Fuck.
That picture above is a photo taken from my actual seat. Section 440, Row 15, Seat 17 at AT&T Stadium (where the Dallas Cowboys play football) in Arlington, Texas. That is where I sat for 3 basketball games. I tried my best to watch the action on the court, but I couldn’t tell whether or not the shots were going down, so I had to look up at the jumbotron for the majority of the game. While the big screen captured a lot of the action, there was no shot-clock display, and the camera routinely missed buckets due to replays being shown of the previous play from 4 totally unnecessary angles.
The NCAA Final Four ticket lottery system is an absolute joke. They hold your money for several months before informing you whether or not your application was successful, and if it isn’t, they keep $20 and mail you a program. If you are successful, they give you a voucher for a program, but it’s only redeemable at one location (Section 225) at the stadium, which is nowhere near the section your seats are in. I ended up spitting my gum out in the voucher.
The fact that they would even offer seats in the 400 section of a football stadium to watch a basketball game is an absolute crime. It’s a blatant money-grab by the NCAA and I feel bad for anyone who gets duped into buying the tickets to any future Final Fours. I had a great time because I was with 2 of my best friends and my girlfriend, but I was personally ticked off the whole time due to the incredibly shitty view.
To make matters worse, the NCAA kept pushing a Final Four Express Pass for $30 via email:
All 4 of us were duped into purchasing this transit pass, expecting there to be ample public transportation. The only problem is, there is no subway or rail system in Arlington (where the games were), and I didn’t even see 1 bus. My hotel was about a 3/4 mile walk from the stadium, but my friends and I had hopes of going to Dallas when the games weren’t in session. On Sunday, when there were no games at all, we couldn’t even get to Dallas because the buses from the stadium weren’t running, and the rail system in North Texas doesn’t even run on Sundays! We might as well have lit $30 on fire.
We all managed to have a great time, even though the NCAA has turned Final Four weekend into a way to part college basketball fans from their money any way possible. There were concerts before the game, and a Bruce Springstein/Fun concert in downtown Dallas that made the trip a little more enjoyable. While I’m sure this won’t be my last Final Four, it’ll be the very last time I get my tickets through the NCAA ticket lottery.
If you want to go to the Final Four, don’t waste your money going through the NCAA. Contact your alumni association, or just book a hotel near the stadium and buy the tickets off of someone locally. I’d rather pay twice face for 100 or 200 level seats than watch ants playing basketball from what feels like a mile away.