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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Championship Week Commences, Promising High Turnstile Traffic

  • Conference tournaments will attract more fans to arenas than the NCAA tournament.
  • Host locations range from NBA venues to on-campus sites.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Championship Week kicks into full gear Tuesday as the ACC and Big 12 men’s basketball tournaments tip off in Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, respectively. On Wednesday, the rest of the Power 5 (for the final time) tournaments get underway in Minneapolis (Big Ten), Nashville (SEC), and Las Vegas (Pac-12).

Altogether, 32 Division I conferences, some of which began their events last week, are crowning champions ahead of March Madness—a nationwide gathering that annually outdraws the NCAA tournament itself. Last year, 722,121 fans crossed the turnstiles at men’s NCAA tournament games, while attendance for all conference tournaments in March 2023 tallied up to a cool 1,073,493. Twelve months ago, the Big Ten welcomed the biggest crowd with 116,918 fans at Chicago’s United Center (across seven sessions), narrowly outdrawing the SEC’s 112,388 spectators at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena (also across seven sessions).

Here’s what you might not know about this month’s action:

  • Seven conference tournaments are being played in NBA or NHL arenas.
  • Five conferences are playing some or all tournament games on campus sites.
  • Nevada is the state hosting the most tournaments (five), with New York in second place (three).

Waiting for More Madness?

While the Big Ten sold out tickets for the women’s basketball tournament—which the Caitlin Clark–led Hawkeyes won Sunday—at Minnesota’s Target Center two weeks ahead of time, plenty of seats are still available for the upcoming men’s games at the same venue. The SEC’s ticket website says the tournament is sold out, but general admission seats for Wednesday are available for face value, $15 before taxes and fees, on the conference’s official ticket exchange. Seats also remain available for the other three Power 5 tournaments.

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