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Gonzaga fans flocking south to watch Zags in Final Four in Phoenix

Gonzaga fans cheer on the Zags during the first half of a second round NCAA college basketball tournament game, Sat., March 18, 2017, in Salt Lake City. Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga fans cheer on the Zags during the first half of a second round NCAA college basketball tournament game, Sat., March 18, 2017, in Salt Lake City. Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few grabbed the West Region championship trophy on Saturday a held it high in the air for all the GU fans to see.

Few took the microphone while standing on a stage in the center of the court and thanked everyone in the stands dressed in Gonzaga’s red and blue for coming to support his Zags as they earned the right to play in the Final Four for the first time in school history.

Before he left the stage he addressed the fans one more time, saying he hoped to see a crowd of Gonzaga fans in Phoenix for the NCAA Tournament finale.

Plenty of GU fans intend to head south for the weekend to witness their Zags play in the biggest college basketball event in the country, but ticket prices and airfares could test their fandom.

Travel packages were made available to priority points holders starting Sunday at 12 p.m. The travel package includes tickets to the games, four-night hotel accommodations in the Phoenix metro area, transportation between the hotel and the games and access to the pregame socials.

Prices ranged from $2,125 for one person to $1,229 per person for a four-person package. Children’s packages (17 years old or younger) were priced at $875 apiece. The top 15 percent of points holders will be allowed unlimited purchases. The lower 85 percent will be limited to six tickets.

Ticket packages can be purchased at www.gonzaga.edu/FinalFour. Prices can vary throughout the week based on the hotels that are available for the ticket packages.

Fans can also upgrade their ticket packages to take a trip to either Sedona or the Grand Canyon, both located in northern Arizona. Both trips are scheduled on Sunday, between the seminal games and the championship.

Tickets to the Final Four was also made available on Sunday to purchase online through Gonzaga for priority point holders and Bulldog Club members only. Bulldog Club members must have donated at least $250 through the club this year to purchase the tickets.

Tickets will sell for $359 apiece, which would include admission to both semifinal games on Saturday and the national championship on April 3. Priority point holders can purchase up to six tickets and Bulldog Club members are limited to two tickets each. Seat location is based on Gonzaga’s point system that is driven by donations to the school’s athletic program.

Tickets have also been up for sale on several secondary markets, such as StubHub and Ticketmaster. Fans can find all-sessions tickets for about $500, tickets to only the semifinal games or only the championship game, or they can purchase package deals on those sites as well for a little more than $1,000. Packages often include free entry to the NCAA VIP events before the games.

Snagging tickets to the Final Four might not be a concern for some fans. But finding a way to get to Phoenix might not be as easy.

John Waite, the owner of Auntie’s Bookstore and Merlyn’s Comics and Games in Spokane, started looking for flights to Phoenix since the second he found out Gonzaga would be in the Final Four.

“(I) got on right away, like right when it happened,” Waite said “The flights were already sold out.”

Immediately after Gonzaga’s win on Saturday, fans starting buying their airfare tickets to Phoenix. As of Sunday, Alaska Airlines is completely sold out on Friday and Southwest Airlines has no flights available anytime between Wednesday and Friday. Delta Air Lines only has first-class seating available on Friday. Both Alaska and Delta have flights available on Thursday, but tickets are being sold for a minimum of $1,400 and $760, respectively.

Alaska has the best option for roundtrip fares from Saturday to the following Tuesday after the championship game. On Sunday, a roundtrip ticket between Spokane and Phoenix was selling for about $1,200.

” I didn’t realize it was going to be this ridiculous,” Waite said.

Neither did quite a few other local Gonzaga fans.

Missy Dixon, who has been a season ticket holder since the first year of the McCarthey Athletic Center, said she and her family bought airline tickets to Phoenix for this weekend in February. She said they were planning a spring break in a warm area and were just keeping their fingers crossed that the Zags would be there, too.

Dixon’s younger son, however, couldn’t commit to the trip earlier this year because his high school baseball schedule was not set in stone. So Dixon didn’t look into airline tickets for her son until this weekend. Since the prices had more than doubled what Dixon had paid for airline fares just last month, Dixon said her son wouldn’t be able to come along.

“He’s a little bit bummed,” Dixon said.

Waite thought of one way to save a little on airfare: fly to another airport close to Arizona and rent a car to drive the rest of the way to Phoenix. His best options were to fly to San Diego or Las Vegas, and then driving roughly five hours to Phoenix.

Airfare prices from Spokane to Las Vegas still settle between $450 and $500 on Friday, but some flights from Las Vegas back to Spokane a day after the championship were less than $150.



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