Baylor University student Rozlyn Veteto wants to watch the Baylor University Lady Bears live this weekend in Denver. Her only problem is she does not have tickets or transportation.
That could change if she is among the fortunate 100 students to win a ticket lottery Baylor is holding. She could get a bus ride to the site of the Final Four women’s basketball championship, a ticket and a hotel room through Tuesday.
“This would be a dream come true,” said Veteto, a freshman from Houston. “There is so much excitement on campus about the Lady Bears. They’re No. 1 in the nation, so why wouldn’t there be?”
Veteto said the thought of an 848-mile bus ride does not worry her in the least. She would spend her time sleeping, studying and hoping the Lady Bears make it to the championship game Tuesday night.
The undefeated Lady Bears will play the Stanford Cardinal in a semifinal game Sunday at Denver’s Pepsi Center. If they win, they will face the Connecticut-Notre Dame winner for the crown.
Tickets have been scarce, and the 19,028-seat Pepsi Center officially is sold out.
But who will sit in those seats remains up in the air. Baylor was not scheduled to notify its lottery winners until Thursday night, and fans continue to troll the websites of secondary ticket brokers.
The NCAA initially allotted 700 Final Four tickets to Baylor, and they went fast to players, the school’s traveling party, administrators, season-ticket holders and members of the Baylor Bear Foundation.
Baylor this week received another 150 tickets from the NCAA and made 50 available to others high in the Baylor pecking order. It set aside 100 to give to students, who had until noon Thursday to apply for them.
“Students with the best chance of getting tickets are those who supported the Lady Bears during the regular season,” said Nick Joos, executive associate athletic director for external affairs.
He said students have their school identification scanned at each game, so Baylor has a record of attendance. That factor will come into play when Baylor emails the winners.
That’s why Veteto, who signed up Thursday morning, is crossing her fingers.
“I’ve been to a couple of games, not as many as I would have liked,” she said somewhat sheepishly.
Joos said a donor who asked to remain anonymous will pay for the bus ride and lodging, while Baylor provides the tickets. Those taking the trip are responsible only for their meals.
Dallas-based Anthony Travel, the official travel agency of Baylor athletics, does not have tickets. But fans have responded well to a “land-travel” package it has offered, spokesman Joe Wunderlick said.
For $400, a fan gets lodging for four nights and transportation to and from the games. On the Sunday off-day between games, the company provides transportation to downtown Denver and other tourist attractions.
Finding tickets has proved adventurous for Richard Kaga, but the Waco accountant and Baylor alumnus confirmed this week he now has four. He, wife Betty and two close friends will sit together in the Pepsi Center.
The group began planning its trip when Texas A&M eliminated the Lady Bears in the regional finals last year. Booking a flight and reserving rooms has been child’s play compared with getting into the games.
Kaga found two tickets online from an individual, then used Craigslist to find two more through an “intermediary” who claimed to be working with a ticket provider.
Kaga sent payment via Western Union — which Craigslist plainly told him not to do — but received no tickets and no reply. He knew he had been conned.
Not desperate, but close to it, he was able to get two more tickets “thanks to some good Baylor folks who made the commitment to buy a suite of seats, more than 20, and make them available to others.”
Kaga said publicity about his plight no doubt prompted these buyers to contact him.
All told, Kaga and his crew will spend close to $1,000 per person on their foray, not counting the costly Craigslist lesson. He ended up spending about $300 per ticket, which is more than the face value of $125 to $185.
Still, it would appear Kaga found a bargain. PrimeSport, the NCAA’s official fan-to-fan ticket exchange service, said Thursday single tickets for prime seats have sold for as much as $1,500.
Reports have surfaced that a handful of people who received their tickets through Baylor want to return them.
“There have been a couple of requests due to emergency situations, but we have a no-refund, no-exchange policy,” said Drew Caskey, director of ticket operations. “If you’ve been awarded tickets, you’re kind of stuck with them. We are having ongoing discussions about that, and we absolutely want to help. It’s just a difficult situation at this moment, due to finding someone at the last minute to take those tickets.”
Bambi Eskew at Allen Samuels House of Travel said air fares to Denver are rising. And available seats on American Eagle, which links Waco to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, are disappearing.
“The cheapest flight I can find is $560 per person, round-trip, between Dallas and Denver, with a return on Wednesday. That’s on United Airlines, if you drive to Dallas and leave today,” Eskew said Thursday afternoon.
American Airlines, for which Eagle serves as a feeder airline, reportedly was charging $1,050 per person for a round-trip flight.
Earlier this month, before fares began to soar, Eskew booked a round-trip flight between Austin and Denver on Southwest Airlines for a client who wants to attend the Final Four. The price was $350.
The Denver Marriott City Center is serving as the official hotel for the Lady Bears during their Final Four stay. Spokesman Chad Conrad said its 600 rooms are booked through the weekend.
Brothers Bar and Grill on Market Street has been designated Baylor’s “gathering restaurant.” It is located two blocks from Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies professional baseball team, and offers salads, burgers, wraps and one of the area’s largest selections of draft beers. It has 26 high-definition TVs and a patio with a fire pit.
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