I "won" the right to purchase these seats for $190

I “won” the right to purchase these seats for $190

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:

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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.


  • Felicia

    I wish I would have seen this a year ago! My husband and I have been anxiously awaiting our tickets, just to find out they are the worst tickets in the stadium. We have been to the final four twice previously getting tickets off stubhub right before the game. We thought this year we would do the lottery thinking we would score prime seats. We were way wrong. We are in section 605 (top corner) in the 16th row.

    • Hook

      Sorry the NCAA took you, Felicia. It’s sad that the best way to see a Final Four game in person is to either scalp or buy off of stubhub. I know that alumni can usually score decent seats, but that means your team has to make it there.

      I bought tickets to the East regional (Sweet 16, Elite 8) in Syracuse this year. My seats are in the corner, but at least they’re in one of the 100 sections. These tickets are through the NCAA, but they give you a link to ticketmaster so you can see where your seats are before purchasing.

      I’ll never buy Final 4 tickets from the NCAA lottery again.

  • Jackie

    Same thing for me! I just got mine and they are in 641. It’s ridiculous! There has got to be something that I can do! It’s robbery. Any ideas?

    • Hook

      It’s complete robbery, but other than sell them yourself, I don’t think there’s anything you can do.

      I’ve been to the 2nd and 3rd rounds (round of 64, 32 in Kentucky 2 years ago), the midwest regional (sweet 16, elite 8 in St Louis a 3 years ago), and the final four last year. The best seats I’ve gotten were for the regional, so I’m going again this year. I had better seats in St Louis, but my seats in Syracuse for the East regional are still decent in section 115.

      I guess my best advice would be never enter any NCAA lottery for tickets. Always know where your seats are going to be before purchasing.

  • Frankie

    I totally cracked up on this story. I too wish I read this prior but they charged$220 the nonreturnable $20 like wtf. I need to check and see my status. I think I would have been better off getting passes and tix from my friends who are NCAA D1 coaches like I have before. I bet if I am approved I’m beyond nosebleeds GEESH. Why is everything such a racket these days?????!!!! Thank god I live in Houston this is my second time going.

    • Frankie

      Thank God I’m in Houston meaning I don’t have to pay additional traveling fees

      • Hook

        there’s no point in entering the NCAA lottery for Final Four tickets ever. you’re locking up a couple hundred bucks for months, and you’ll either end up with a program or the shittiest seats in the arena. I recommend going through any other medium available, whether it’s StubHub, scalpers, uncle Moe with the gimpy leg, craigslist, eBay, whatever. Anything but the NCAA lottery.

  • Ron

    Man am I glad I read this before applying. Thanks for the info fellow b-ball fans!

  • Jessica Healton

    You get what you pay for in life. If you can not afford it marry rich or stay home and watch it on TV.

    • Hook

      No one is complaining about the price. They don’t tell you that you’re in the nosebleeds when you enter the lottery. I would gladly pay up for (and have paid up for) 100 level or courtside tickets. The lottery is a joke. No one should bother watching a game from that far away

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