Things to consider when attending a college basketball game are all included here, like average ticket costs, how to get the best seats, and/or the best value, parking, concession stand options, and finally the total cost for a family of four to attend a college basketball game, all things considered.
Let's get started with what to expect with the price of entry per person.
Average Ticket Costs
The average ticket price to a college basketball game is roughly $70/ticket. In many cases though, you can get 3 tickets for that amount. But if you are a fan of Duke for example, that might not even cover half of one ticket for a good seat.
So, it varies widely.
The best resource for getting a snapshot of all the team's ticket averages across the country is this College Basketball Ticket blog post from Razorgator. Of course, mentally adjust for slight inflation over the last few years. Still, it holds mostly true to date. (That's the most recent archive available)
Seat Selection - Court side vs Nosebleed, etc.
While a national average cost of $70 exists, this accounts for the wide margin as the most expensive seats inflate that number, a lot.
For almost all teams, you can easily get a ticket for $10-40 a pop, as long as you willing to seat in the higher up seats or not be as close to half court. But the average half court, court side ticket will run you $75-100+ easily. And for the top 5-10 most popular teams in the country, like Duke, Villanova, Kentucky, Indiana, etc, you can be looking at $200-300 per.
And I do mean just for regular season action. For NCAA tournament seating, or even conference playoffs/championship games, prices skyrocket. Actually, check out the official NCAA March Madness Ticketmaster page. They have a $50-$130 price range listed. That's great, if you can get them before they sell out and the resell value goes way up.
So, what to budget for when it comes to tickets?
All depends on the team and the match-up you want to see. Here's a good way of looking at it:
Family of Four - $140. That would $35/per for regular seats. Could be court side even, depending on your team.
Family of Four - $600. That would be $150/per for awesome seats. Court side, best view, popular teams.
Wait, that's too expensive. How do I get good seats on the cheap?
Good question. Luckily it's not that hard. Prices above are if you buy normally, not looking for any deals and aren't thrifty whatsoever.
Buy last minute and save, big time.
Time honored tradition when it comes to buying tickets here. Just wait until the last few hours of the game and try your luck at what's available. For very popular games, this won't be an option. But for most regular season games, there will be seats left day of. And they (almost) always go for a healthy discount. Expect 50-75% savings come game day. Just be prepared to strike out and be watching the game at home as a consolation.
Or, do the opposite. Sign up for fan mail, and buy as soon as tickets become available.
For die hard fans, this option presents some really good value. Just like with concerts, arenas want to sell out as soon as possible. And they do offer exclusive membership discounting (in some cases) for fans that are willing to go the extra mile. Sign up for your team's fan club. That info and option would be available on your team's official website, or Facebook page. A lot of times they will offer you tickets before others can get them, and sometimes as a solid discount.
Less desirable seats, on the cheap.
Covered this already, but worth repeating in this section. Nosebleed = cheap. Just want to be in the arena, and a part of the action? Upper deck tickets are far and away the cheapest. Some games you can get into for as little as $3 a ticket. And even for the most popular teams, tickets can go as low as $10-20. Not bad at all, especially when others will be paying hundreds just to sit close to the bench. You will have a bird's eye view too.
That covers tickets, what about everything else?
Parking isn't too bad.
Many arenas discount parking, especially for college students. And for regular parking, expect $5-30. Safe to carry upwards of $40 in cash, just to be absolutely safe. Also consider public transit to and from. Save yourself the hassle of traffic and lower the cost of this expense, if you have the time and ability.
Concession stand food and costs.
If you do plan to eat and drink while watching the game, your menu options will be pretty standard across the nation. Nachos, hot dogs, pizza, burgers, fried stuff, sodas, sometimes beer (check local arena menus via google).. all what you would expect from a typical movie theater or state fair/carnival outing, with the price inflation to go with it.
Per person, account for $15-20 for food and drink. $30+ is you plan to drink alcohol. Though since this is a college game you are attending, many arenas won't have that option.
Rounding things out, consider budgeting for souvenirs.
This is of course the most optional expense for attending a game. But many people overlook this when planning for a night out to a game. A lot of times, buying souvenirs is an impulse buy. You see a cool jersey, shirt, hoodie, calendar, etc and decide to splurge a bit in the name of home town pride, for example.
Account for say.. $10-25 for a team t-shirt. More or less depending on the team's national draw. Jerseys and hoodies usually run for $30-75 a piece.
Total cost for all considered
Family of Four (low end) - $220 + souvenirs and alcohol
Family of Four (high end) - $710 + souvenirs and alcohol
Once again, wide margin. For most people attending most games, the $200-300 range is the number to expect. For a date night or going out with a friend, or even solo, that gets adjusted to $50-$75 a person.
And remember, you can cut costs by buying tickets last minute and/or going with upper deck options, being on the fan club's mailing list, also taking public transit, eating at home before/after the game, and avoiding souvenirs and alcohol.
Or go all out. See the most popular team in the country play another crazy popular team (cost wise that's currently Duke vs NC Tar Heels), get court side, half court, drink, buy souvenirs.. just the whole works. Will be an awesome night out, with a hefty price tag to accompany, somewhere in the neighborhood of $5500-$6000! And don't even get me started on the Final Four...
Whatever you decide, enjoy your experience at the game!