31 March 2009

Spartan Basketball Helping Depressed Detroit

Originally Posted to USA Today

As the lower-seeded team in Saturday's first NCAA men's national semifinal, Michigan State will be wearing its road uniforms against Connecticut. But UConn coach Jim Calhoun knows appearances will be deceiving.

"I'm very aware of the fact that there will be a little bit of noise for the guys in green," Calhoun said Monday, five days before his Huskies take on the Spartans in Detroit, 92 miles from Michigan State's campus in East Lansing.

Approximately 71,000 fans are expected, according to the NCAA. That would break the tournament record of 64,959 set at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans in 1987. How many will be rooting for the Spartans?

"I'm sure there will be 50 or 60,000 Michigan State fans there," Calhoun said.

Maybe not quite that many.

As Spartans coach Tom Izzo pointed out, the Final Four is attended by fans from all over the nation.

The NCAA's Greg Shaheen said about 24,000 tickets were sold to the general public for $150 to $300; 10,000 go to the organizing committee; about 18,000 are divided among the four schools, and the rest to the NCAA, schools, coaches and CBS.

The Final Four is sold out, but getting tickets is possible. RazorGator, the NCAA's official ticket and hospitality package provider, has been listing tickets on the secondary market from about $600 each to $40,000 for a premium suite.

While overall prices have been down from last year because of the economy and the stadium size, demand has increased because of MSU, RazorGator vice president Scott Roback said: "That's had a major impact. Michigan State's participation is definitely pushing the price up."

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