Fans of losing teams divided on whether to sell tickets

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With the Final Four down to its last game — the NCAA basketball championship Monday — Arlington’s entertainment district has become a bazaar of sorts for unwanted tickets.

As Saturday’s semifinal games whittled the four teams to two, some fans said they planned to sell their unused tickets to Monday’s game to the first person who asked for them.

Others planned to stay for the big game even though their team was no longer in the hunt.

Josh Kolmetz and his wife, Kristy, spent $500 on lower-level tickets. The University of Florida graduates had planned to stay for Monday’s championship, but when the Gators lost 63-53 to the University of Connecticut, they began thinking seriously about leaving early.

“We still might unload our tickets,” said Josh Kolmetz, 35, a physician from Crestview, Fla.

As the Kolmetzes left AT&T Stadium on Saturday evening, they didn’t appear to be approached by anyone asking for their tickets.

About 80,000 people were expected to attend each game: potentially tens of thousands of fans leaving disappointed and not wishing to stick around for the Monday game.

Joe Ferraro, an insurance salesman from Tampa, Fla., was offered $50 for his $250 ticket. He said he would consider selling it but not for such a cheap price.

“I’ll try to get $100 or something,” he said. “We’re definitely not staying, not after that.”

UConn fan Aaron Rosenberg followed his team to the Final Four in Detroit in 2009. But Connecticut fell in the semifinals that year, so Rosenberg, who lives in Boston, was eager to head home.

Luckily, he said, one of the teams that made it to the championship was Michigan State — practically the hometown team. So Rosenberg, 27, cashed in on the high demand for tickets.

“I sold it for $800,” Rosenberg said. “I sold it to someone who came up to me right after the game.”

Scalpers busy

On Saturday afternoon, scalpers were busy at Collins Street and Randol Mill Road, just across from AT&T Stadium. Several scalpers said they were looking to buy tickets below face value and turn them for a quick profit.

One man who declined to give his name said he would pay no more than $50 per ticket but would try to find buyers for $100 to $150. The man held a wad of cash, unconcerned by the throngs of motorists and pedestrians watching him interact with passers-by.

Although the secondary markets showed tickets selling at a premium — SeatGeek had single-game tickets going for $669, for example — many fans said they got tickets for a song.

Members of a group of five women who attend Wisconsin said they got tickets to all three Final Four games for $40 through their university.

The students saved even more money by avoiding hotel costs. One woman has an aunt in Colleyville who offered them a place to crash.

Jakub Szczygielski, 22, and Matthew Ramsey, 23, both of Enfield, Conn., got tickets to Saturday’s games for $40 through the University of Connecticut.

But the undergraduates paid $600 each for airfare. Ramsey said he works at a Verizon store near the campus and used his savings for the trip.

Buyer beware

The student sections of both Florida and Connecticut were only about half-full, and some of those seats were offered to local colleges, such as the University of North Texas in Denton and Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Tim Stevens, a chemistry graduate student at UNT, attended the Saturday games for only $20. But he had no plans to attend the championship.

“I have to teach on Monday, so I can’t go,” he said.

In Arlington, scalping tickets in the open is a misdemeanor that can lead to a $500 fine. But police aren’t cracking down, spokeswoman Tiara Ellis Richard said.

It’s legal in Arlington to resell tickets at a business or private residence, but only for the buyer’s personal use and for no more than face value.

As usual, the NCAA warned fans not to buy tickets from unauthorized sellers.

“NCAA basketball tournament tickets bear unique security marks that cannot be reproduced,” Josh Logan, director of ticketing and marketing, said in a news release. “Individuals who purchase tickets from unofficial sources, including unauthorized street vendors, run the risk of purchasing tickets that are not authentic and do not grant entrance to tournament games.”

Staff writer Rick Press contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796 Twitter: @gdickson

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