Wichita State’s basketball team will have plenty of support when it begins the NCAA Tournament in Portland, Ore., on Thursday.
The school by Monday had sold out its NCAA allotment of 550 tickets, which included a guaranteed 350 tickets with an option for 200 more, said Darron Boatright, WSU senior associate athletic director.
Tickets for the game still are available though, through other sources.
Planes have been chartered to carry the school’s official team party and alumni to Portland. The team plane leaves today with 118 people aboard, including players, coaches, family members of coaches, school administrative personnel, the pep band, cheerleaders and dance team.
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The WSU Alumni Association has filled a flight with 152 people at a cost of $900 a seat. The plane, which leaves Thursday morning, was almost completely booked before the NCAA brackets were announced on Sunday, but interest soared after the pairings were revealed, said Debbie Kennedy, alumni association president.
“Now, everybody wants on it,” she said. “That’s so sad because I can’t get them on.”
The phones rang in her office all day. WSU alumni organizations around the nation were calling about forming television watch parties for the games in their cities. Kennedy said her office is trying to send them “spirit boxes” containing Shocker pom-poms and Mardi Gras beads. The Final Four will be played in New Orleans.
She’s also contacting Shocker alumni in Portland to let them know the schedule of receptions and pep rallies, Kennedy said. She didn’t know how many Shocker alumni live in the area.
Tickets for the Shockers’ Thursday game with Virginia Commonwealth in the Rose Garden Arena were still available on Monday, according to the NCAA and Rose Garden websites.
An official with the arena’s box office said tickets would be available only online until Wednesday, when they will go on sale at the arena.
Tickets may be purchased on line at rosequarter.com. for the complete three-day session for $243 and $198, depending on seating location. Those tickets will stop being sold this morning at 10 a.m.
Tickets just to WSU’s session, which includes the Shockers’ game against Virginia Commonwealth and the Indiana-New Mexico State game to follow, will cost $86 and $66 either at the rosequarter.com or at the box office.
With arena capacity at just under 20,000 seats, officials at rosequarter.com and the arena box office said seats should be available for all sessions. They wouldn’t say how many.
Meanwhile, tickets for Omaha, where the University of Kansas plays Detroit on Friday night, have been sold out for at least two weeks, said officials at the 17,260-seat CenturyLink Center.
Tickets are officially sold out for the first two rounds of the tournament at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center, where Kansas State plays Southern Mississippi on Thursday. Tickets could become available only if some of the schools turn back their allotment, said Jason Varnish, box office manager of the 19,000-seat arena.
Schools have until 11 a.m. Central time Tuesday to turn in unsold tickets. But Varnish said he would wait until Wednesday to put them on sale.
K-State has sold its initial allotment of 350 tickets. KSU ticket manager Scott Garrett said he doesn’t expect the school to exercise its option to request 200 additional tickets.
“I don’t think we’ll need them,” Garrett said, adding that he has until the 11 a.m. deadline Tuesday to decide.
Devin Hansen, president of Sunflower Travel, which is helping with WSU travel arrangements, said flights to Portland from Wichita, and from all connecting hubs, are booked. He recommended Monday that people who want to get to the tournament fly from Wichita or Kansas City to Seattle, which is a three-hour drive from Portland.
Tickets for flights from Wichita directly to Portland were selling online for more than $1,000, but people were taking a risk booking them, he said.
“I caution people when an airline has no seats to sell and they’re selling you that at a high a price and you don’t have a seat assignment, that’s scary,” Hansen said.