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Tournament time: That's the ticket


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Ed Pence had an inside track when he and his wife, Kim, landed tickets to watch the Hoosiers continue their quest Thursday night in Washington, D.C., for the NCAA men’s basketball championship.

The Columbus couple, who graduated in 1981 from Indiana University, were season ticket holders during the 2012-13 season, which helped them land postseason tickets through the IUhoosiers.com website.

The opportunity to buy postseason tickets at face value has evaporated, but there’s still a ticket, hotel and airplane flight out there for any Hoosier fan willing to pay premium rates.

Ticket resale outlets, hotels and airlines are charging top prices for even economy-level accommodations as the Hoosiers prepare to face the Syracuse Orange in the East Regional at Washington’s Verizon Center.

Game tickets range from $240 to $1,900 each at Indianapolis-based Circle City Tickets. Round-trip airfares as of Tuesday afternoon ranged from $558 to $918 out of Indianapolis International Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Hotel rooms? Plan on hundreds of dollars a night.

Supply and demand is driving up the game ticket prices, said Lindsey Myers, a sales representative for Circle City Tickets. She said Indiana fans are competing with Syracuse fans for late accommodations, but also with Miami and Marquette fans, whose teams square off earlier Thursday evening. Winners of the regional semifinals will play Saturday for a chance to advance to the Final Four.

“My advice is to buy now,” she said. “Sales have picked up since Friday.”

Tickets are good for both games that evening. The Miami vs. Marquette game is scheduled to tip off at 7:15 p.m., and the Indiana vs. Syracuse game is scheduled to tip off 30 minutes after the first game, which should be between 9:45 and 10 p.m. Thursday’s IU game will be broadcast on WISH-TV.

But for some Indiana fans, seeing the game on television just won’t do.

Kai Westerfield, IU’s alumni event and service coordinator, said the IU Alumni Association has several groups that will make the trip together as part of a travel package through Premiere Global Sports.

That package starts at $889 for a single room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Its price does not include the cost of game tickets. Those packages are available at iuaahoosierssportstravel.com

The Pences booked their trip independently.

Ed Pence, who runs the Seymour-based high horsepower engine business at Cummins Inc., said he and his wife are lifelong Hoosier fans who have occasionally watched the team play in Indianapolis but never held season tickets or attended post-season play until this basketball season.

He said they attended the Hoosiers’ early games of the tournament in Dayton and paid about $400 for two main-level seats in Washington, D.C. that would have cost several times that if they bought them from a resale agency.

If the Hoosiers win Thursday, the Pences plan to fly to Washington again for the Hoosiers’ game Saturday.

If the Hoosiers win that game, too, then they plan to drive to Atlanta for the Final Four.

Closer to home, basketball fans can at least avoid the cost of an airline flight by heading to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for Friday’s Midwest Regional, where Louisville will take on Oregon and Duke will take on Michigan State.

The regional draw of Louisville and Michigan State and the national pull of Duke have driven up demand for hotel rooms and tickets, city officials and ticket brokers said.

“In terms of hotel rooms, we expect Thursday through Sunday to be a virtual sellout downtown,” said Chris Gahl, spokesman for Visit Indy, the city’s tourism arm.

“We expected the demand to push out this weekend quite a bit into the suburbs. After the teams qualified for the regional on Saturday and Sunday, we saw a definite uptick in room reservations in the suburban hotels.”

The Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis saw a considerable increase in reservation requests from the Louisville and East Lansing, Mich., areas over the weekend, general manger Brian Comes said.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.

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