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Sports Business

Are Duke backers steering clear of this year's Final Four?

April 2, 2015
KEYWORDS Sports Business

When looking at the breakdown for ticket sales by state for this weekend’s NCAA men’s Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium, I am reminded of the song “Where have all the flowers gone?”

Except I’m thinking instead, ‘Where have all the Duke fans gone?’

It’s not surprising that more ticket purchases are being made out of the state of Kentucky than anywhere else. The Wildcats’ run at an undefeated season—the first since 1976—is fueling record ticket prices on the secondary market. Plus, the Big Blue Nation has always been among the most fervent in college basketball.

But the margin between the states might surprise you. The lack of tickets being sold to North Carolina residents—where Duke is located—is also a bit of a stunner.

In case you’ve just withdrawn from winter hibernation and haven't heard, the University of Kentucky, Duke University, the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University will fight it out at this year’s Final Four.

Another interesting note about this year’s Final Four is how many Indiana residents are buying tickets. Despite the fact that this is the seventh Final Four this city has hosted, it’s still a strong locally attended event, with one ticket broker saying almost one-fourth of all the tickets he has sold are coming from Indiana hoops fans.

I’m guessing they weren’t anticipating IU would be here. So it shows a real local love for the event.

Indiana is a top five market for almost every ticket seller at this year’s Final Four. By all appearances Hoosiers are buying close to as many—maybe even more—than fans from Michigan and Wisconsin.

Duke is an unusual case for several reasons. First, many of the residents of North Carolina root for the public state schools—North Carolina and North Carolina State.

As a private school known for exceptional academics, many Duke students come from out of state and/or move out of state after graduation. And as a private school, they simply have fewer alums than the other three public schools. So don’t expect a tiny contingent of Duke backers to be here this weekend. They’ll likely just be coming from all over.

Whether Duke fans come in good numbers or not, most of the blue you’ll see in Indy this weekend will be coming from the
Bluegrass State, not worn by fans cheering for the Blue Devils.

Here’s a look at how some of the top ticket sellers and analysts break down the sale of tickets by state to this year’s Final Four. Listed below are the top five states plus North Carolina, which is in nobody’s top five.

Ticket Network
Kentucky 25 percent
Wisconsin 11 percent
Michigan 9 percent
Indiana 9 percent
Ohio 8 percent
North Carolina 1.5 percent

Seat Geek
Kentucky 20 percent
Wisconsin 11 percent
Michigan 10 percent
Illinois 9 percent
Indiana 9 percent
North Carolina 3 percent

Kentucky 29 percent
Indiana 22 percent
Michigan 18 percent
Wisconsin 15 percent
Other 12 percent
North Carolina 4 percent

If you’re not familiar with the song “Where have all the flowers gone?” here’s a stirring rendition by Peter, Paul and Mary.


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