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Final Four ticket price no object for some Spartan fans

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Jeff Hicks was going to take his two daughters and wife to Niagara Falls during spring break next week. But that has changed now that Michigan State University’s basketball team is heading to the Final Four.

Like scores of other Spartans fans, Hicks plans to go to Indianapolis on Saturday to cheer the team on, hopefully to the national championship.

But he, like others, will shell out lot of cash to get his family there. Though the Hickses are staying with friends, tickets are expensive — ranging from $300 for big university donors through MSU to nearly $10,000 on the open market for a pass to all three games.

“But it is absolutely worth it,” said Hicks, a 1993 alum. He got tickets to last year’s Rose Bowl game but learned late Monday he didn’t get tickets to the Final Four.

“We’re living in the golden era of Michigan State sports. I think my girls think this is the way it’s always been,” he said. “It hasn’t always been green ... but now the football and basketball teams are doing so well.”

The Spartans landed in the national semifinals by beating Louisville 76-70 in overtime Sunday. MSU will take on Duke on Saturday, tipping off at 6:09 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium. If they win, they will play in the national championship game at 9 p.m. Monday against the winner of the other Final Four contest, pitting Kentucky against Wisconsin at 8:49 p.m. Saturday.

Michigan State was allotted 3,250 tickets for admission to all three games, which will be sold for $300 each to alumni who support the Spartan Fund and university fund at certain levels.

“There are way more people that want to have access, so there has to be some system for who gets access to them,” said MSU Associate Athletic Director Paul Schager. “Those people (supporting the Spartan Fund) are invested in the program. We sometimes call it ‘investing in champions.’ This is somewhat of a return on their investment.”

Meanwhile, the university has 700 three-game student tickets for sale. The tickets, $40 each, will be allotted to students who are basketball season ticket holders.

On the resale market, tickets are the most expensive in years, according to data compiled by TiqIQ.com, a New York-based aggregator of event ticket listings on the resale market.

The average price for a ticket to both Final Four games on Saturday plus a ticket to the championship game Monday is $1,893.42, according to TiqIQ.com. The lowest price for admission to all three games is $643, while the highest is more than $9,300.

The average price for tickets just for the two Saturday games is $1,019.34, with the lowest price at $431 and the highest at more than $6,100.

The average ticket price for the championship game alone is $748.40. The lowest ticket price is $281, while the most expensive ticket is $4,600.

Tickets likely cost so much because of the proximity of the Final Four teams’ home states to Indianapolis, and because all are prestigious teams, said Chris Matcovich, vice president of data and communications at TiqIQ.com.

“At bare minimum, if you want to see all three games, you are probably throwing down $650,” Matcovich said.

Andy Stolen, a Howell resident and MSU alum, tried to get tickets from the university as a Spartan Fund donor and season ticket holder, but got turned down.

He said he wouldn’t consider paying more than $400 a ticket, especially since he has been to MSU’s six other Final Four games.

“It’s nice to have a nice experience,” said Stolen, an engineer. “But you have to be prudent. Especially with the advent of nice TVs and places to watch the game. Not to mention the hotel room would be $200 a night, and whether you could find one within an hour’s drive of Indianapolis and all the other expenses that would come with it. It’s like paying for a vacation, and not something I am willing to do.”

For those who go, there’s a chance of seeing a few celebrities. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former L.A. Laker and MSU basketball star, has been at the Spartans’ last few games leading up to the Final Four. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, also has been seen at recent MSU games.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon and Spartans basketball coach Tom Izzo and others are expected at a pep rally from 6-7:30 p.m. Friday at the Indiana Convention Center.

Even though Hicks didn’t get tickets from the university, he found four and plans to to take his family anyway.

“We will not be deterred,” he said.

KKozlowski@detroitnews.com