Downtown Phoenix gets ready to host the NCAA Final Four Fan Fest and house the teams as they play in nearby Glendale for the NCAA Final Four games. David Wallace/azcentral.com
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The court for the NCAA Final Four tournament is put together at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral
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The massive scoreboard known as “Colussus TV” is installed at University of Phoenix Stadium for the upcoming NCAA Final Four games. David Wallace/azentral.com
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Mark Hubler, emergency manager for Glendale, talks about the Final Four on Feb. 28, 2017, in the Emergency Operation Center, Glendale.
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Downtown Phoenix gets ready for NCAA Final Four
Piece by piece, the court for the NCAA Final Four tournament is put together in Glendale
Scoreboard installed at University of Phoenix Stadium for Final Four
Preparing for the Final Four in Glendale
The Final Four is on in Arizona. Who’s here? What’s happening? Check back for frequent updates on the scene at the stadium, the Fan Fest and the March Madness Music Festival.
Noon: Ticket prices for games plunge
It happens every year. The field for the Final Four locks into place on a Sunday evening, and the resale market floods with tickets. Fans from across the country scramble to find seats, snapping up whatever’s available. Prices spike.
Then ticket prices spend the next week steadily dropping, hitting their lowest point 48 hours before the Final Four tips off.
Last Sunday, tickets for Saturday’s semifinals were available for $322 on the online market, according to online aggregator TicketIQ.
By Friday morning, the same tickets had dropped to $212.
“This is definitely more typical than rare,” TicketIQ spokesman Ralph Garcia said. “What happens just about every single year is from that point onwards, until the day of the games, the prices just drop.”
Three-game ticket books, which include both Saturday semifinals and Monday’s national championship game, have a face value of $200 but have been sold out for months. That leaves only a small chunk of the 72,000 seats in University of Phoenix Stadium available through ticket brokers and the online market.
Through the first week of the NCAA Tournament, prices for those seats were propped up by the hopes of a local fan base. The Arizona Wildcats, whose campus sits just 130 miles from Phoenix, had a No. 2 seed and a seemingly clear path to the Final Four. But Arizona lost in the Sweet 16, and the ticket market plummeted.
The most expensive Final Fours often feature local teams or traditional college basketball powers. But this year, none of the four remaining teams – Oregon, Gonzaga, South Carolina and North Carolina – come from campuses within 1,200 miles of Phoenix. Only North Carolina has reached a Final Four in the past 75 years.
“This certainly has been an interesting market,” Garcia said. “A lot of the teams that people expected to make it through didn’t quite get there.”
Two more flurries of sales should come between games this weekend, and the cycle will repeat itself. Prices should be highest just after final buzzers, and are expected to drop as tip-off draws near.
11 a.m.: Hawking programs for a ticket
File this under one of the more moral ways to get free tickets to the games: Gilbert High School teacher Jim Bracken took the day off to sell $20 programs for the NCAA containing information about the Final Four teams. If he sells them all, he gets to watch the games for free.
Want to help Bracken get in, or just interested in buying a “Bible of Basketball?” He’s the first person you see when entering from Gate 2 into the stadium.
10 a.m.: Cool, windy weather
Temperatures were expected to be below normal for the Final Four weekend, and basketball and concert fans can expect breezy, cloudy weather, according to the National Weather Service.
The afternoon high in the Phoenix area was forecast to be about 70, about 20 degrees cooler than Thursday, the weather service said. Pack some extra layers and possible blankets for the outdoor events after the sun starts setting, meteorologist Hector Vasquez suggested.
If you want a quick day trip before the games begin, keep in mind that snow was expected to fall sometime Friday just north of the Prescott area.
Friday morning: Visitors moving in for the weekend
A projected 9,200 people will be staying at Airbnbs in the Phoenix area this weekend, making it one of the area’s most popular weekends this year, according to an Airbnb news release.
Apparently, we come cheap: The typical price for a booked listing in Phoenix this weekend is $94 per night, and in Glendale it’s $110.
The cities where most Airbnbs guests are coming from are, in order: New York, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Tucson, Calgary and San Jose.
MORE: Map of the downtown Phoenix events
TV schedule for Saturday
No. 1 Gonzaga (36-1) vs. No. 7 South Carolina (26-10), 3:09 p.m., Channel 5 (Play-by-play: Jim Nantz. Analysts: Bill Raftery, Grant Hill. Reporter: Tracy Wolfson).
No. 1 North Carolina (31-7) vs. No. 3 Oregon (33-5), 5:49 p.m., Channel 5 (Play-by-play: Jim Nantz. Analysts: Bill Raftery, Grant Hill. Reporter: Tracy Wolfson).
TV schedule for Monday
Semifinal winners, 6:19 p.m., Channel 5 (Play-by-play: Jim Nantz. Analysts: Bill Raftery, Grant Hill. Reporter: Tracy Wolfson).
Compiled by Republic reporter Kaila White from reports by Republic reporters Alden Woods and April Morganroth.
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