The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

79° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Slow ticket sales worry NCAA

    women’s ncaa tournament preview

    Though the teams are still more than a week away from being named, preparations for the McKale Center-hosted first and second rounds of the Women’s NCAA Tournament have been underway for months.

    “”It’s crazy when you think about what goes into making March Madness,”” said Hope Nsiah-Kumi, Arizona women’s basketball information director, who will coordinate up to 75 media members who make the trip to Tucson. “”It’s so much work that nobody really stops to think about how much is going on.””

    A team of nearly 30 volunteers will work the tournament that takes place next week, March 18-20. Matt Brown, Arizona’s director of event operations, will serve as the tournament director.

    Each game will be televised, at least in part, on ESPN’s family of networks.

    The policies laid out by the NCAA are so strict that Nsiah-Kumi had to attend seminars in Indianapolis for the past two summers detailing exactly how to run the tournament. Every last detail is accounted for, right down to the type of cups allowed on press row.

    “”Their theory about it is that it won’t matter if you’re covering a team in Tucson, a team in Chicago or a team in Nashville, your experience as a student-athlete, your experience as a reporter is going to be the same no matter where you go,”” said Nsiah-Kumi. “”They manage it more than you could possibly believe.””

    Though they would eventually like to go toward the men’s format of using neutral sites throughout the tournament, in reality the NCAA awards host sites in the women’s tournament to universities where they feel ticket sales would be most positively impacted, and more often than not that means providing a team with what is essentially a home game.

    When Arizona was bidding to host the site two years ago, the thinking was that it would be one of the best teams they’d had in years, with both Shawntinice Polk and Natalie Jones in their senior seasons. Ticket sales wouldn’t have been a problem, as, after presumably making the tournament, the Arizona fan base would come out to watch their beloved Wildcats play their first- and second-round games.

    It also didn’t hurt, said Michelle Perry, the NCAA’s Director of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, that “”Arizona’s had a strong tradition of women’s basketball.””

    “”They’ve done a good job both promoting women’s basketball and putting together some great teams,”” Perry said. “”U of A has done it before many times, both on the women’s side and as well as on the men’s side. That makes it an easy place to come back to.””

    After Polk suddenly died before the season, Arizona rapidly changed from a team that could garner a top seed to one that wouldn’t make the tournament, finishing 8-22 on the year.

    Now, with the Wildcats heading off to various spring break locations instead of the tournament, the problem becomes ticket sales, which as of Wednesday only stood roughly at nearly 600 all-session passes sold.

    “”I think the key for us is to sell tickets,”” Perry said. “”That is what’s going to make Tucson a regular stop on our tour. We need folks that normally come out and support U of A to come out and support women’s basketball.””

    When the bracket is filled out by the Selection Committee on “”Selection Monday”” – moved for the first time this year from Sunday – likely candidates to be among the eight teams playing in McKale are No. 14 Stanford, No. 15 ASU, and No. 20 New Mexico. The Cardinal and Sun Devils, both from the Pacific 10 Conference, would be allowed to compete in the same venue because McKale is hosting games part of two separate regionals, meaning they wouldn’t meet unless both reached the Final Four.

    The NCAA could potentially look at adding a high-profile team, such as No. 6 Tennessee or No. 3 Louisiana State – the squad that ended Arizona’s season last year in Knoxville, Tenn., in a second-round game – in order to help boost ticket sales. Tickets are only available as $75 all-session passes that give fans access to all six games in McKale.

    The Lady Vols averaged 15,356 people per game this year at home, 7,477 on the road and 5,104 in six neutral-site games.

    LSU averaged 6,273 fans at home, 7,952 on the road and 4,634 in five neutral-site games.

    “”We’ll have six great days here,”” Perry said. “”We certainly hope that the local folks come out and support the eight teams that will be here regardless of who they are.””

    Added Nsiah-Kumi: “”Sadly enough, when it comes to women’s basketball, the general population knows a handful of teams that are good. If one of those teams came, it would make a huge difference.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search