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Ticket brokers, city to take lumps as IU sent east

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Ticket brokers took a gut punch Sunday when NCAA officials announced that Indiana University would not play in the Midwest Regional of the men's basketball tournament in Indianapolis even if it won its first two tourney games.

Brokers aren’t the only ones expected to take some lumps. Though local tourism officials expect downtown’s 7,100 hotel rooms to be sold out on March 29 and 30, they say the overall economic impact is likely to take a $1.5-million-plus hit because of the decision to send IU elsewhere.

IU received a No. 1 seed but will be playing in the East Regional with games starting in Dayton, Ohio. If the Hoosiers win those games, they will play their Sweet 16 games in Washington, D.C.

The Midwest Regional in Indianapolis could still contain some popular programs. The four highest seeds that could be headed for Lucas Oil Stadium are the University of Louisville, Duke University, Michigan State University and St. Louis University.

“Ticket demand has certainly slipped,” said Mike Peduto, partner with Circle City Tickets. “Right now, tickets for the regional here aren’t moving at any price.”

Central Indiana ticket brokers took a double hit. Not only is IU being sent elsewhere, but Louisville is scheduled to play its first two games in this year’s tournament in nearby Lexington, Ky., which has softened the market for tickets to the Indianapolis regional.

“Louisville fans are focused on Lexington right now,” Peduto said. “They’re not even thinking about the games in Indianapolis. Whereas, the Indiana fans have been thinking about Indianapolis for months.”

Ticket brokers think the inclusion of IU here could have been a windfall for several reasons. Not only are there myriad IU alums and supporters living here, but there is pent-up demand from the Hoosier faithful, ticket brokers said.

“IU fans are starved to see them play locally in a big tournament game,” Peduto said. “It’s been a long, long time since IU had a real chance to make a deep tournament run, possibly win a regional.”

It could have been worse.

“Louisville and Michigan State still have sizable traveling fan bases,” Peduto said. “If they would have stuck a school like Gonzaga [University] here, demand would have gone through the floor. Not only is [Gonzaga] far away, but it’s a small school, and those types of schools simply don’t have the alumni base and fan support to drive demand like the large state schools.”

Other nearby schools could drive ticket demand, but they’d have to pull some serious upsets. Valparaiso University is also vying for a chance to play in Indianapolis, but with Michigan State as its first-round opponent, few are giving Valpo a chance to make the regional. The University of Cincinnati also has a shot, but it's a long one for the No. 10 seed.

Duke University, seeded second in the Midwest, with its national following, could help drive sales, ticket brokers said.

With tickets still remaining at the box office, tickets on the secondary market were barely moving above face value on Monday.

All-session tickets are available for $90, while single-session tickets begin at $50. The Indianapolis games feature two Sweet 16 games with the winners meeting in one Elite Eight game on Sunday. The winner of Sunday’s game advances to the 2013 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Atlanta.

All-session tickets on StubHub were selling Monday for just slightly above face value, starting at $94.50, with single-session tickets available for as low as $47.99, below face value.

“What you have now is a lot of IU people trying to sell their tickets,” Peduto said.

The regional games in Indianapolis are still expected to draw 31,000 to 33,000, said Indiana Sports Corp. spokesman John Dedman.

“We think the draw is going to be very good,” Dedman said. “When Michigan State and Louisville met here in the 2009 regional, that game drew 36,000.”

Right now, Dedman said, Lucas Oil Stadium is configured to seat a maximum of 33,000 for the 2013 regional games.

Overall, sports economists said, the omission of IU from the Indianapolis regional will likely cost the city $1.5 million or more in economic impact.

“IU has a rabid fan base and we expected a lot of them to come downtown, even some without tickets, to celebrate,” said Chris Gahl, spokesman for Visit Indy, the city's tourism arm. “That’s what we found when Butler made it to the Final Four here in 2010. It becomes a huge local festival of basketball, and that’s what we expected with IU."

The economic impact is still expected to be in the $15 million range, but sports economists said Indiana’s inclusion could have pushed visitor spending up as much as 10 percent.
 

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  • Why worry about scalpers?
    I'm an IU grad, fan, and season ticket holder so I was hoping to see them play here in Indy to attend the games but hopefully I can put that money saved toward seeing them in Atlanta the next weekend. I have to laugh though at the way the media always focuses on the impact on scalpers(or "brokers" as they preferred to be called) as if we should be concerned that those people that will charge every cent possible for high demand events should somehow be soemthing we are concerned about when things don't go their way. I agree with the other comments that the real economic impact to Indy may actually be better without IU here. Now, you're still going to get IU fans out in bars and restaurants watching the regional games from DC plus you are going to get more out of town visitors spending the night in hotels, spending money in restaurants that they wouldn't have spent in Indy otherwise, etc. A good chunk of IU fan restaurant/bar spending in Indy is going to take place regardless of where they are at. I know a lot of IU fans that were excited about potentially attending IU games here but I didn't hear even one say they were going to spend the night in a hotel. That would just be silly unless if you were four or five hours away which most IU fans aren't.
  • B1GTom has it right
    As someone that has worked in the hospitality industry for over a decade - B1GTom has it right (assuming that teams like Lville and MichSt do advance). This article primarily focuses on the ticket resale market and not on the other aspects of what drives economic impact. And for those that are claiming that the NCAA "owes" us IU in our region - let's not forget we are fortunate to have a 35 year agreement to bring numerous NCAA events here to Indy ranging from the biggies (Men's basketball) to other championships like Swimming & Lacrosse (also this year).
  • Doubting the "experts"
    I think it is a positive for Indianapolis that IU is not playing here. It definitely will help the hotels. If IU were playing here, tens of thousands of people would not need to stay in a hotel. They also would be much more likely to eat at home, as most of them would be within driving distance. Now we'll likely have tens of thousands from MSU, Louisville and Duke filling all of the hotel rooms and eating most of their meals at restaurants all over the city -- and drinking at many of our fine drinking establishments as well. Many of the local bars and restaurants will fill with IU fans anyway to watch to watch the East regional games from DC - which will be on alternate days from the game days for the Indy regional. Now the local bars will be full on Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sunday. The only big losers are probably the ticket brokers -- but that's the way it goes. The NCAA has already sold 30,000 + tickets, so they're not going to lose out. Its just those people who thought they might be able to sell their tickets for 2 or 3 X their face value who now may not be able to get rich quite as quickly. That's what happens some times when you gamble. Also - its ridiculous to blame the NCAA bracket selection crew for not sending IU to Indy. To have made that choice would have been a dis-service to Louisville, which deserves the #1 overall seed. If IU would have won the B1G, they would have deserved to get the route to the Indy Regional. I for one am perfectly fine with things working out the way they did - especially in terms of how the city of Indianapolis will be impacted.
    • your right
      You are correct I would not pay $200 to watch any other team. I just hope there are enough fanatics coming to Indy to take my tickets.
    • In other words, fix it for IU?
      These comments are pretty funny. bigjer is not a basketball fan, just an IU fan. Meanwhile Kevin and RNall think that because the NCAA is located in Indy, they should take care of IU fans. How silly...if the regional was in Hawaii, a lot of IU fans would be there...IU travels well. Makes sense to me...when you know IU fan is going to be there anyway, you don't worry about where you put them, and they did not earn the #1 overall seed, so they don't get to stay home. The team could have taken care of it...they win the Wisconsin game (12 straight for the Badgers as I recall) and they get the #1 overall, and no worries...If I was IU fan I'd be a lot more worried about whether Watford will show up, Hulls will find his jump shot, and Ferrell will figure out after 30 plus games that he can't make the assist pass through the window in traffic (he needs to make shots too)...it is a short run if those guys don't give Oladipo and Zeller some help.
      • Grow Up Boys
        Louisville won the #1 seed. IU faltered the last three weeks of the season. Ticket brokers understand the risk involved with a venue like Lucas, which is a terrible place to watch basketball. ---btw, IU fan and 1976 grad.
      • Kevin's commnet
        I totally agree with Kevin's comment. Why didn't the NCAA selection committee move Louisville to the East Regional. They do play in the Big East, correct? Whoever is in charge of the selection committee should remember how to treat Indiana University when its obvious the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana have given the NCCA millions of dollars in subsidies!
      • I'm the fool
        Thanks NCAA now I'm stuck with 2 tickets for teams I do not want to see. I should at least be able to get a refund.
      • Really?
        The NCAA folks are idiots for not putting IU in the Midwest Regional. What a blow to the Indy economy and what a slap in the face to the NCAA's home city. I hope the Mayor, Governor and legislature remember this the next time the NCAA wants something from them. What fools.

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