High prices, dwindling options for travel to NCAA semifinal

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Loyola-Chicago head coach Porter Moser holds the net after a regional final NCAA college basketball tournament game against Kansas State, Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Atlanta. Loyola-Chicago won 78-62. | Mike Stewart/Associated Press

While the Loyola men’s basketball team prepares to take on the University of Michigan, fans are planning their trek to San Antonio for Saturday’s highly anticipated Final Four game.

From securing last-minute tickets and airfare and finding a place to stay, those hoping to cheer on the Ramblers — and Sister Jean — could end up paying thousands of dollars before the tipoff.


The average purchase price for a ticket for semifinal games is $1,133, according to TickPick, an online ticket marketplace. The average for a championship game is $597. Ticket sales on the site start at $124 and go up to around $340. On other sites, like Vivid Seats, tickets for the Final Four start at $149.

Jack Slingland, director of client relations for TickPick, said this year’s prices are lower than last year’s possibly because of the smaller venues where the games will be played.

“If Loyola sees another upset, we could continue to see championship prices go down,” Slingland said. “They’re not as big of a program that has a history of traveling.”

Planes, trains and automobiles:

Those thinking of flying to San Antonio from Chicago could see steep prices for airfare. A round trip ticket for flights leaving Chicago on Wednesday and returning on Sunday is nearly $1,000, according to the lowest estimates from Justfly, Priceline, Travelocity, Hotwire and Expedia.

Currently, a Thursday to Tuesday round trip — which would allow you to see the Ramblers if they make it to the finals — is between $1,200 and $1,400, according to estimates from Expedia.

A Friday evening round trip that would bring you back Sunday currently runs between $1,042 and $1,772, according to Kayak.

Flights leaving Friday and returning Tuesday are currently between $1,048 and nearly $2,000, Kayak estimates show.

Train tickets to San Antonio won’t be cheap either.

A round trip coach seat — leaving Thursday and returning Tuesday — on Amtrak’s 21 Texas Eagle costs $280 before fees or trip protection. A one-way ticket from Chicago currently costs $269; a Sunday return trip could cost $445 or more because coach seats have sold out.

For the 32-hour return trip, Amtrak has a roomette for $434. For nearly $900, Amtrak also has bedrooms available — the cabins have a private bathroom with a sink, toilet and shower.

If you’re leaving Friday and returning Tuesday, there are few remaining seats left — a coach seat for $269 is available going to San Antonio — but on the way back, you’d have to get a bedroom or a smaller room that offers only bunk beds.

The cheapest option is probably driving — though the fastest route from Chicago to the Alamodome will still take more than 18 hours.


Prices for Airbnbs — just a single room — close to the Alamodome currently range from $49 to $65. Entire apartments and houses are also available. One, starting at $89 per night, offers an entire two-bedroom apartment a few blocks away from the arena. A two-bedroom home, which costs $25 a night, is minutes away from the dome.

Ben Breit, a spokesperson for Airbnb, said supply for rooms is up and so is demand. On a typical weekend, prices are around $59 per room per night — that price has jumped to $88 per room, per night.

Many hotels near the Alamodome are booked up, but charges for hotel rooms range from $176 per night for a room at the Inn at Market Square to $444 a night for a room at La Quinta Inn & Suites San Antonio Riverwalk.

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