Everything about this year’s NCAA Tournament is trending up, from viewership to attendance to Final Four ticket prices.
Ticket prices for the women’s Final Four on Friday outpace those for the men’s Final Four on Saturday on the secondary market.
Yes, the venue is smaller – the men are playing in NRG Stadium, which is home to the Houston Texans and seats nearly 75,000, while the women are playing in the Dallas Mavericks’ American Airlines Center, which seats 20,000. But the prices still speak to the increasing profile of the women’s game.
For the women’s final weekend, an all-session ticket cost at least $475 on Stubhub and $335 on Vivid Seats as of Thursday afternoon, according to ESPN. Meanwhile, on the men’s side, tickets were going for $65 and $66, respectively.
For the semifinals alone, tickets start at around $184 for the women and at just $44 for the men’s.
“I really think the sky’s the limit. I don’t know if ticket prices are as indicative because ours is in an actual basketball arena, and they’re playing in a football stadium. I don’t know how much that affects it,” Iowa star Caitlin Clark said. “But I think it shows the demand that people want to be here and be in the arena that seats 20,000 people.
“More than anything, I’m just lucky and we’re just lucky to get to play on a stage in front of so many people that love the game and want to watch our game.”
No. 2 seed Iowa will face No. 1 overall seed South Carolina in the second semifinal at 9 p.m. ET, while No. 1 seed Virginia Tech will face No. 3 seed LSU in the first semifinal at 7 p.m. ET. Both games will air on ESPN.
“It’s exciting. I’m happy,” LSU standout Angel Reese said. “It’s exciting the women’s game is growing. Being able to see that many people coming to our games — honestly, when I came to LSU, I knew what it was going to be. We get 15,000 fans coming to our games, even on the off-night.
“Just seeing the game growing like this and in a Final Four for the first time, I’m just excited, and I’m excited to see all the people that are coming tomorrow.”
The increase in viewership and attendance throughout the postseason has not gone unnoticed. Viewership on ESPN has hit all-time highs, with anticipation mounting that Friday’s Iowa-South Carolina matchup could shatter records. Attendance has also increased throughout the tournament.
“I think it’s pretty incredible,” Clark said. “I think it’s starting to get the viewership, the attention, things like that that it deserves. When people really turn on the TV or sit in the seat, they understand how good the product is and how much fun it is to watch.”
And if you ask South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, the popularity of this year’s tournament has been years in the making.
“It’s been building towards this for a long time,” Staley said. “Fortunately for us — not just South Carolina, but us as women’s basketball — we’ve got a lot of star power behind our sport.”
The players, for their part, understand their role in growing the game.
“I think the most exciting part about it is being a part of history,” said LSU’s Alexis Morris. “We’re literally watching the game grow and change right in front of our faces, and we’re playing a huge part in it. It’s an honor, and I’m just super excited to be a part of it.”