Wednesday, March 12, 2008

ACC Tournament Prep Kit - Part 1 - LastYear and GettingTickets

In getting ready for the 2008 ACC Tournament, thought we'd start with a look back at 2007 in Tampa, as there may be some things we can learn. Like last year, this year we are away from the familiar home of the tournament in Greensboro and in a downtown setting. This means parking can be challenging, tailgating may be replace by bar-hopping, and pedestrian flow becomes a challenge for ticket buyers, as people are parking all over the place.

Some posts of interest from last year:

Nice slide show from Tampa at

This type of scene in the surrounding blocks in Charlotte should be about what we are looking at.

In last years

Getting Tickets for the ACC Tournament

I talk a bit about some of the things I've learned in my 17+ years of going to the tournament without a ticket in hand. Lot's of good advice there, so give it a quick read.

Trying to estimate what a ticket market will be like is a mixture of art, science, economics, weather forecasting, and WAGs. It also involves weighing often conflicting forces.

Seating Capacity at BobCat's Arena is right around 20,000, about 3000 seats short of Greensboro's capacity. If memory serves me correctly, this is also the first year that all 12 teams get their full allotment of tickets. Previously, the newer members of the conference were getting only a partial number of their share, to ease the transition. So, schools like the Big Four, who always have more ticket demand than tickets, actually get fewer tickets now. On the surface this tightens the market, BUT, this means schools like BC who do not travel, got more tickets that will likely show up in the resale market.

Last year, being in Tampa, and in our second year of the full thursday/friday schedule, tickets were widely available and cheap, especially on thursday and Friday. The 2 biggest factors leading to this were
  • NC based fans didn't travel, especially for 1st two days
  • No local fans came out to buy tickets.
Being back in NC, both of these will change somewhat. However, I'm not convinced that as many locals will come out as they do in Greensboro. For many of the fans who might generally show up at Gboro to see if they can get tickets, Charlotte may be a little more intimidating, given that most college basketball fans in the state have been to Gboro, but haven't been to Bobcats Arena.

Weather looks good so likely won't be much of a factor, unless the few showers that will be around on the weekend are timed just right to suppress buyers.

Quick check of the online resale market shows the normal craziness, with ebay tickets ranging from single sessions below face to stupid multi-thousand dollar prices
ACC Tournament Tickets on Ebay

StubHub books starting around $475.

CraigsList will not have any steals, but if you really need tickets in hand before going to Charlotte, it might be an option.

Face Value for 2 game sessions is $70, which should put the full book ticket face value price at something around $385.

OK, here are my predictions, use them as you will.

The main driver of ticket demand this year, as is typical, will be UNC Fans, followed by Duke Lovers and Haters, then Clemson. Expect more Clemson fans than in any previous year ever. While casual Wake fans in a good year turn out in Greensboro, they skip the drive into the unknown of Charlotte. State fans have mostly written off the season, expect to lose to Miami, and don't show up in normal numbers. BC, Miami, and FSU are non-factors. Maryland travel is down a bit because Charlotte makes it a little less drivable. UVA attendance will be down, but will be more than made up for by VaTech fans, who are at least a little excited about their team and a #4 seed.

Thursday Afternoon:
Despite both Wake and State playing Thursday afternoon bringing out a few additional local fans, this is still a work day for most, and no reason for UNC, Duke, and Clemson fans to show up at all. If you don't care where you sit, you can get into this game for $10 if you work at it a little and aren't afraid to wait around a bit. You will be able to find downstairs seats for face or less, and might get lucky with a real bargain if you don't jump too early.

Thursday Nite:
Just as easy as Thursday afternoon. No local teams and plenty of bars and food nearby will have some of the money people dumping very good seats, so look for a killer seat.

Friday Afternoon:
Carolina Fans show up, but not in big numbers. A matchup with Wake would bring more interest. If NC State somehow makes it to Friday more state fans show up. This will still be a below face value ticket, but tighter than Thursday. If both State and Wake are playing, this puts 3 of the Big Four, and maybe brings it to a face value ticket.

Friday Nite:
Clemson fans finally show. Bad to medium seats still below face, but premium starts to be paid for good downstairs seats, maybe $10 to $15 over face.

It's all about the matchups when it gets to this point. If you assume seeds hold, this looks like a great day of basketball with upstairs tickets ranging from face to $10-$15 over. Will take some work to do cheaper. Downstairs will go from $25 over face to ridiculous numbers, but with a little effort really nice seats for around $50 over face. If UNC or Duke (and to less extent Clemson) aren't playing Saturday, take some $$s off. If UNC isn't there, bottom falls out of the market, and could only be saved by an NC State miracle run.

If it is Duke/UNC, look for bad seats going for $15-$50 over, good seats $40-$100 over. Other matchups vary widely, but Duke and non-BigFour team becomes mostly a face value ticket.

Some notes about law enforcement:
  • If there are visible police discouraging reselling of any sort, this can mess up the market driving prices up, because just normal fans don't feel comfortable selling, even at below face, and this shrinks supply, leaves sales to scalpers, and drives up prices. I don't expect this, but if it happens you'll have to move further out to look for deals.
  • If there is visible or undercover operations to fight scalping (sale above face value) it will only come into play later in the weekend when prices start going up, and can make it go up.
  • Remember, it is not a crime to sell tickets at Face Value + $3 (something close to that) or below. Also, it is not a crime to buy tickets, at any price.
Final advice. Be patient. Turn down several deals until you get a real feel for the market.

Stay tuned, shortly I'll have some info on travel, the arena, parking, etc.


Anonymous said...

One Factor to keep in mind is that Charlotte is something like Chapel-Hill Southwest

Anonymous said...

Great analysis... It will be interesting to get your take on what things are like at the new arena in Charlotte compared to the old arena... I'm hearing that because of the size (or lack thereof) of the new arena, this may by the last tournament in Charlotte.