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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga thrilled to open its NCAA Tournament close to home in Boise

UPDATED: Sun., March 11, 2018

Gonzaga's Mark Few addresses the media after the NCAA Tournament bracket was announced on Selection Sunday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga's Mark Few addresses the media after the NCAA Tournament bracket was announced on Selection Sunday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Relief ensued once the Gonzaga Bulldogs discovered that they would be traveling to Boise for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Zags have high hopes that less travel time will attract more Gonzaga fans to the Taco Bell Arena at Boise State on Thursday when they take on 13th-seeded UNC Greensboro at 10:30 a.m. in the first round of the tournament.

“We have the best fans in the country,” Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams said after the NCAA Tournament selection show aired on Sunday. “To (get) the opportunity to play in Boise so they can come and watch us, in means a lot to us.”

Gonzaga fans easily took over Orleans Arena in Las Vegas during the West Coast Conference Tournament last week. This week, the Zags are hoping for just as many fans to be cheering them on from the stands at Boise State.

“You know how our fans travel,” guard Josh Perkins told media members on Sunday. “For it to be in Boise, it’s unreal. It’s going to be loud in there, packed with Zag fans. I just hope everybody gets there safe so they can be real loud in there for us.”

For those planning on spending a long weekend in Boise, spending about six hours or so driving on the road might be the way to go. But as of Sunday evening, a handful of airlines were offering some reasonable prices for the fans looking for a quicker trip.

The lowest prices for flights from Spokane to Boise on Wednesday varied between $136 at Alaska Airlines and $162 at Delta Air Lines.

If Gonzaga advances to the second round, fans can probably expect to fly back to Spokane on Sunday.

Alaska Airlines flights returning from Boise on Sunday after the second round were being sold for as low as $140 before the selection aired Sunday afternoon. Prices jumped to about $200 after the selection show. Flights leaving Boise on Sunday also increased about $60 for Delta Air Lines and were being sold for roughly $240 after the show aired.

All flights from Boise to Spokane on Southwest Airlines were sold out as of Sunday evening.

Once in Boise, getting inside Taco Bell Arena could present itself to be a much more difficult task – or at least much more expensive. The Zags will be closer, but the game ticket prices are a bit heftier this season, mostly because of the venue and the company.

Taco Bell Arena is twice the size of the McCarthey Athletic Center, but it’s one of the smallest arenas hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Unlike some other locations hosting the first two rounds this weekend, like PPG Paint Arena in Pittsburgh and Little Caesars Arena in Detroit that hold nearly 20,000 fans, Taco Bell Arena’s limited space could keep prices steep as demand for tickets increase throughout the next few days.

Also take into account Gonzaga’s company – fans of five seeds Ohio State and Kentucky and fourth-seeded Arizona often travel just as well as Gonzaga’s fans. Their numbers could make for some undesirable ticket prices that are considerably higher than that of other locations.

Tickets weren’t immediately available on the Taco Bell Arena website on Sunday evening. In the secondary market, tickets were available for Sessions 1, 2 and 3.

Full-strip ticket packages, which allow fans to all three sessions, were also made available. All-sessions tickets were as low as $550 on VividSeats. StubHub had full-strip packages for $625 a person.

But those are some hopeful numbers for fans who don’t mind the seats in the corners of the stadium.

On all other sites, the median price for all-sessions tickets were about $1,200. On VividSeats, ticket prices rose to as much as $1,654 for seats closer to the floor. That’s compared to other first-round locations, such as Pittsburgh and Dallas, in which full-session tickets were selling for just $225 on SeatGeek.

For those looking to just watch the Zags play this week, all-sessions tickets might not be the best route. Instead, take a gander at Session 1 ticket sales, which will allow fans to two Thursday showings – the Gonzaga-UNC Greensboro game and the Ohio State-South Dakota State game at 1 p.m.

If Gonzaga moves to the second round on Saturday, Session 3 tickets are also available separately. Session 3 seats were being sold as low as $385 on StubHub and rose to as much as $1,196 on VividSeats.

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