Sammi Dugan and Maria Lafferty were turned away from the March Madness Music Festival in downtown Phoenix, which hit capacity at 3:45 p.m. Sunday, April 2, 2016. (Alexis Berdine/azcentral.com)
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About 3,000 kids dribble through downtown Phoenix for the Final Four Dribble on Sunday, April 2, 2017. (Patrick Breen/azcentral.com)
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FINAL FOUR: Fans react as Gonzaga survives late S. Carolina rally, advances to championship 77-73. (Alden Woods/azcentral)
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Fans arrive early for the festivities before the Final Four games Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Patrick Breen/azcentral)
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Would you spend $7,500 for three games of the best college basketball? How about $275? Reporter Perry Vandell breaks down the action on the tickets before the big games. Patrick Breen/azcentral.com
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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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March Madness Music Festival hits capacity early
Final Four hits the streets with a Dribble walk!
Gonzaga fans in Glendale react to win over S. Carolina in NCAA semifinal
Fans pack University of Phoenix Stadium lawn for Final Four
Which seats in the Final Four house are still available?
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 NCAA men’s national championship game is here. What’s happening in metro Phoenix? Check back for frequent updates all Monday on the scene at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale and the Final Four Fan Fest in Phoenix.
3 p.m. Phoenix Suns at Fan Fest
Phoenix Suns players Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis appeared at the Final Four Fan Fest in the Phoenix Convention Center Monday afternoon.
2:30 p.m. Tailgating in full swing
The Tip-Off Tailgate was heating up by 2:30 p.m. outside the University of Phoenix Stadium, literally – It was 85 degrees with little shade.
Attendees used free mini Wendy’s frostees, Coca Cola samples and paper fans promoting the 2018 Final Four games in San Antonio to stay cool.
The tailgate is free for anyone with a ticket to the game and is open until 5:30 p.m., when fans will head into the game.
1:45 p.m. Parties gearing up in Glendale
Fans of both teams streamed through the Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa right across from the stadium for a pre-championship party where there was live country music, games of cornhole and a $13 Bloody Mary bar with about a dozen types of hot sauces.
Some attendees were browsing for souvenirs at a merchandise stand and silent auction in the lobby. Bids started at a cool $1,295 for basketballs signed by North Carolina and Gonzaga players.
1:15 p.m. Students line up at the stadium
Gonzaga and North Carolina students lined the barrier outside University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, utilizing what little shade it provided.
A group of Gonzaga students said they had been waiting since 10 a.m. so as to get the best seats. One of the students, Bonzi Erickson, said the student seats are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Claire Monsas, another Gonzaga student, said they would have to wait in a another line for tickets once the stadium’s outer perimeter opened at 2 p.m.
The Gonzaga students far outnumbered North Carolina, though Hannah Frisch, a UNC student, said she wasn’t concerned. Frisch said fewer students drove to Arizona compared to last year’s Houston location, but those who flew in would arrive in due time.
Not every student was willing to stay for better seats. Another group of Gonzaga students were shocked after learning the gates wouldn’t open for another couple hours, and debated about sacrificing their seat placement for food and sunscreen. They decided someone would stay behind to hold their place in line – whom that would be, however, was another question entirely.
Noon: College students get into Fan Fest for free
Anyone who is a student at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona or Grand Canyon University can get into the Final Four Fan Fest at the Phoenix Convention Center for free with a student ID Monday.
10:30 a.m.: Ticket prices drop to $100 each
Ticket prices have fallen all week, pushed down each time a buzzer sounded and knocked another team out of the NCAA Tournament. Now that the final tip-off is an afternoon away, tickets to see Gonzaga and North Carolina play for the national championship are available for around $100 online.
Tonight’s game has been sold out for months, but just over 2,000 tickets are for sale online, according TicketIQ, an online aggregator. Tickets sold for an average of $305 over the weekend. The cheapest available seat, tucked high in a corner of University of Phoenix Stadium, has an asking price of $114.
“As predicted, tickets are quickly coming down,” said TicketIQ spokesman Ralph Garcia.
In the weeks leading up to this year’s Final Four, the ticket market slipped and became one of the cheapest in years. But a matchup of high-profile No. 1 seeds in the national championship game have caused prices to jump back up, creating one of the most expensive title games in years.
After Saturday’s semifinal games ended, the cheapest available ticket to Monday’s game spiked to $179. That’s routine: Fans still riding the high of their team’s latest win are often willing to pay well above market value. The drop that followed is also typical: In every round of the NCAA Tournament, ticket prices peak the moment games end and slowly slip until the next game starts.
Last-minute tickets to last year’s championship game, in Houston, were available for as little as $72.
Monday morning: It’s the big day!
It will be blue blood vs. new blood in the national championship game Monday. North Carolina royalty, with five titles to its name, will compete for its sixth against upstart Gonzaga, which made its first-ever Final Four appearance in Glendale on Saturday.
And if the two nail-biter semifinals are any indication, the championship game will make the Valley’s first-ever NCAA Final Four one for the ages.
And remember, University of Phoenix Stadium is not selling alcohol of any kind at its concession stands. Don’t say we didn’t tell you!
- 10 a.m. University of Phoenix box office opens. Parking lots open at 1 p.m., and the stadium opens at 4 p.m.
- Noon-6 p.m. Final Four Fan Fest at Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix.
- 2-5:30 p.m.: Tip-Off Tailgate presented by Infiniti, on the Great Lawn outside the stadium. Free for anyone with a ticket to the game.
- 6:19 p.m. National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
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 Arizona Republic reporter Kaila White from reports by Republic reporters Perry Vandell and Alden Woods.
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