UK fans are Houston bound

By Jarrod Thacker

The road to the Final Four is a long one.

Dedicated UK basketball fans will find that out when they trek 995 miles to Reliant Stadium in Houston to view the finale of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, at the expense of their wallets.

Fan ticket prices for the both days of the Final Four can range from $200 to $20,000 per ticket depending on the seat location and the amenities included.

Some full-time UK students were fortunate enough to win tickets from the UK Ticket Office during the Final Four lottery for the price of $25 for entire session. The Ticket Office estimated that approximately 800 tickets were available, according to a UK Athletics email.

Winners received confirmation emails on Saturday and were delivered instructions on Monday about how to order from the NCAA’s Veritix ticket system.

The digital system ensures that the tickets are non-transferable, the email explained. Winning students will receive their physical tickets at Reliant Stadium when they present their student IDs, the credit card used to purchase the ticket and driver’s license.

The seating locations designated by the tickets vary on both days. Half of the student tickets will be floor side, while the other half will be placed in the upper level. A victory for UK on Saturday will allow all student tickets to be on the floor for the championship, but otherwise all tickets will be upper level.

Those without tickets may soon have the opportunity to acquire student passes. If there are tickets remaining from the lottery, they will be sold as general admission.

Regardless, a lack of admission may not deter some fans from celebrating in Houston, as a plethora of restaurants, cafes and bars encompass a one-mile radius around Reliant Stadium.

Though they have many options, the sizable distance will be a challenge for many students trying to accompany the team.

Possible options for avoiding the estimated 17-hour drive are by flight and a combination of bus and train.

Roundtrip flights from Lexington or Louisville to Houston are currently averaging from $700 to $1,100, and seats are filling quickly, with some airlines reporting a few available seats.

“If I go, I’m probably going to fly,” lottery winner Casey Tackett, a business and marketing freshman, said. “It’ll probably be really expensive, but it would be worth it. I can’t wait.”

Students can also ride a combination of bus and train through Amtrak from Louisville to Houston, but would have to leave earlier because of slower travel. However, the ride would only cost about $200.

Jacklyn Ghergurovich, public affairs coordinator for AAA, recommends that students make hotel reservations as soon as possible, and not  wait until they are in Houston. Hotel prices in a 10-mile radius of the stadium can range from $150 to $400 a night.

Regardless of the expenditures, devoted UK fans will find a way to Houston to cheer on the Cats on April 2.