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It's a great year for the Bay Area to be hosting the first round of March Madness at HP Pavilion. The down economy means that NCAA tournament tickets are cheaper and easier to get than they have been in years.
And it turns out the seats at HP Pavilion cost less than they do at any of the seven other first-round tournament sites. In your face, Spokane Memorial Arena!
The first round of March Madness typically sells out, and it still might by Thursday's tip-offs. But as of 12 Noon on the Monday after Selection Sunday, five of this year's eight first-round NCAA Tournament arenas still have tickets left for all of this weekend's games.
"Times are a little different now," said Taylor. "People are a little tighter with their money."
Only the Milwaukee, Providence, and Spokane sites have sold out the weekend. That's bad news for traveling St. Mary's Gaels fans, who tip off on Thursday evening at the sold-out Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.
But tickets are still available for March Madness at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, and they're the cheapest tickets to the Big Dance. Online reseller TicketNetwork.com averaged the prices of each venue's available tickets, and found HP Pavilion's to be the cheapest at $198.90 for an individual three-game set. Single seats are still sold in three-game sets, that is, a ticket to both first-round games Thursday, plus the two winners playing against each other Saturday.
Do you want to see what a set of March Madness tickets actually looks like? Someone trying to unload theirs on Craig's List has photos of them.
If you bleed Golden Bear fur and want to head to Jacksonville, Florida to watch Cal vs. Louisville, there are special deals for Golden Bears season ticket holders. But for regular everyday Cal fans with no particular connections, tickets are still available at a face value of $216 for a three-game set of Cal vs. Louisville, Duke vs. the Play-In Game winner, and Sunday's Round 2 match-up of the winners of those two games.
Individual game tickets cannot be bought separately, except in the parking lot.
But when the game's not sold out, the parking lot is probably the best place to buy your ticket anyway.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who picked the wrong year to try to get rich quick off an NCAA Tournament ticket-scalping scheme.