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Nosebleed seats at Final Four? Why fans say it’s better than you think


Among all the championship matches in U.S. sports, the Final Four has something that sets it apart from others: it’s the only one played in stadiums not meant for its sport.

The men’s NCAA Tournament was first held in a domed stadium in 1971, but has become an annual occurrence since 1997. Holding the event in football and baseball stadiums allowed games that would normally hold close to 20,000 people to instead have over 70,000 people in attendance.

But a bigger stadium could make it tough for those at the top to watch. A basketball court is about 1/12 of a football field, meaning some people will spend hundreds of dollars on an event that won’t be the kindest to the eyes. 

So is it worth it to still go if you’re in the nosebleeds? Those that have done it before say yes. 

“It’s something that I wish everyone would be able to do,” John Matis, who attended the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis, told USA TODAY.

Follow the madness: Latest Men’s NCAA Tournament College Basketball Scores and Schedules

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Follow the madness: Latest Men’s NCAA Tournament College Basketball Scores and Schedules

Just getting in

Buying tickets to the Final Four could be tough because prices fluctuate as the tournament goes, all depending on which teams end up making it to the destination.

Matis was a student at Texas Tech when the Red Raiders made their first Final Four. He said no one expected it would happen, but when it did, he and his friends spent the week debating if they could make the trip. They ultimately decided to go at the last minute, getting nosebleed seats because “the prices shot up” and it was all they could afford.

Kansas Jayhawks fan Bobby Tech also said he bought nosebleed seats to last year’s Final Four in New Orleans following the second round, when he became convinced KU could make a deep tournament run. 

Matis and Tech bought their tickets at different times in the tournament but they both shared the same goal: getting in the building. 

“Every seat is designed to have some sort of view,” Tech said. “It was like, as long as we’re there, that’s all it really matters.”

Unlike Matis and Tech, Brayley Crowe had no rooting interest when it came to attending the 2016 Final Four in Houston, the same stadium where this year’s edition will be played. A college basketball fan, Crowe got the tickets as a high school graduation gift, and was thrilled to just get to the event. 

How is the view at top?

Crowe, who sat towards midcourt at the top of now NRG Stadium, said he could see the games “well enough” and wouldn’t say it was a bad view. 

“It was definitely smaller, but overall, I had no actual complaints of what I could see, given the circumstances of what the game was, and what it meant,” he said. 

Tech sat in one of the corners of Caesars Superdome last year, and like Crowe, said “it wasn’t a terrible view” even though he was in the last row of the top section.

“We could still see the court pretty fine. If you knew who the players were, you were able to identify them,” Tech said. “It was actually much better than I think I honestly expected or any of my friends expected.”

What makes it worth going to the Final Four?

Matis said the Final Four and national championship “wasn’t really about seeing as much as feeling” because of the electric atmosphere inside the stadium, especially for Texas Tech making its first Final Four appearance. Even with the national championship loss, it’s still something he can say he saw in person. 

“It really wasn’t about having the best tickets, seats or whatever, because when I tell people that I was there, they’re not going to ask where I was sitting,” Matis said. “Even though it’s not the most positive experience, it’s still an experience that I’m lucky to have been through, because so few people get to do that.”

Aside from the game itself, there’s also plenty to do around the stadium and city to make the experience fun. Crowe enjoyed the fan festivities outside the stadium, while Tech basked in activities to do in New Orleans.

Surprise: Florida Atlantic joins elite group of most-surprising Final Four teams in NCAA Tournament history

‘Absolutely do it’

Crowe, Matis and Tech all said if someone was unsure about going to the Final Four and sitting at the top, they would tell that person to do it. Tech rated his experience a “12 out of 10” and called it a once in a lifetime experience people should do at least once. Matis added the environment is really what you’re paying for. 

“It doesn’t matter what section you’re sitting in. The environment is going to be crazy wherever you are,” Matis said. 

Even if you don’t have any fan stake in the game like Crowe, he said the Final Four is one of the best sporting events in the U.S., and it’s hard to give it a bad rap even at the top. 

“Absolutely do it. It’s freaking awesome,” Crowe said.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.


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