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Ticket prices for the women's Final Four games rival the men's

The price of a seat to watch the Final Four of the women's NCAA Tournament has rivaled the cost of attending the men's event.
Steph Chambers
Getty Images
The price of a seat to watch the Final Four of the women's NCAA Tournament has rivaled the cost of attending the men's event.

Those hoping to see Caitlin Clark win a national championship in her final weekend as the best player in college basketball will have to pay up.

Tickets to see Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes meet the Connecticut Huskies in the Final Four of this year's women's NCAA Tournament — along with the other semifinal matchup between undefeated South Carolina and North Carolina State — have been more popular than ever, ticketing platforms say, with prices rivaling or even surpassing tickets to the men's event.

Logitix, a ticketing services company, reported Wednesday that the average sale price for a resale ticket to the women's semifinal had reached $2,323. By comparison, the average sale price for the men's event was just over $1,000, it said.

As of Friday midday, the cheapest resale seats available for each event was roughly the same price — around $300 to $350 each when purchased as a pair (not counting fees charged by online ticketing platforms). The men's event had higher prices for the most expensive tickets, by about $1,900 to to $1,000.

The high prices for the women's Final Four are a continuation of a trend that began last year, according to the ticket resale platform StubHub. In 2023, the average ticket price for the women's Final Four was 15 percent higher than the men's event, the company reported. It added that total sales for 2023's women's Final Four were six times higher than in 2022.

Those 2023 totals have now been bested, StubHub said. "This year is the best-selling women's Final Four ever," it said Thursday on the social media site X.

One factor to note is the difference in venue size for the two events. Women's Final Fours are typically held at an NBA arena, while since 2009 the men's teams have played in NFL stadiums temporarily reconfigured to host a basketball game.

This year, the two women's semifinal games will take place Friday evening at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland, home to the NBA's Cavaliers. That arena seats about 19,400 attendees.

By contrast, the men's Final Four will take place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., an NFL stadium that usually hosts the Arizona Cardinals. That venue is much larger; when configured for basketball, it's capable of seating as many as 73,000 people.

Interest in women's college basketball has soared this year thanks to Clark's record-breaking season and a cast of other compelling stars like Angel Reese and Flau'jae Johnson of Louisiana State, JuJu Watkins of USC and Paige Bueckers of UConn.

That boom in attention culminated last Monday in the record-breaking TV audience for the Elite Eight matchup between Iowa and LSU, a rematch of last year's national championship game that ended with a 94-87 Hawkeyes victory.

More than 12 million viewers watched the Iowa-LSU game, ESPN reported, making it the most-watched college basketball game ever on ESPN platforms and one of the most-viewed games of any sport besides the NFL over the past year. (The only game of the men's tournament so far to top that audience was the Elite Eight matchup between the popular Cinderella team North Carolina State and Duke, which was broadcast over network television on CBS.)

"It's hard for you to wrap your head around. When you step on the court and you're playing for 40 minutes, you're not thinking, like, 'Oh my gosh, there's 10 million-plus people watching this game at home,'" Clark said in a press conference Thursday.

But, she added, then she saw how the Iowa-LSU audience had stacked up against other sports broadcasts this season — better than all but one regular season college football game, better than all but one game of last year's NBA Finals, better than the deciding game of last year's World Series.

"I think that really puts into perspective where women's basketball is going and the type of excitement around our game," Clark said.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.
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