Saturday, December 4, 2021

Students go great lengths for tickets

March 12, 2002

The resiliency of the men’s basketball team has spread to its fans.

Finance senior Ken Wink won’t let 588 miles and a nine to 10-hour drive separate him from the Spartans first-round matchup in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

“I had previous success getting tickets in raffles and I always had a good time when I traveled,” Wink said. “The worst case scenario, I’ll just go down and try to scalp tickets.”

Wink said transportation is the only element that could prevent him from going to Washington, D.C.

During the 1999 Final Four in Tampa Bay, Wink drove to see the Spartans play. After MSU lost to Duke, he sold the championship ticket for $300.

“It paid for most of my trip,” Wink said.

He said $200 is his limit for MSU tickets this year.

For students who would rather have their ticket before they make the trip, has tickets ranging from $350 to $660 as of Monday evening. The prices vary as to the location and session. Fans can go a cheaper route - to the fourth deck of the MCI Center. They also can get in through a bidding war for courtside tickets.

Wink said he’ll be checking the Internet regularly to see if any tickets are available and within a reasonable price range.

Unlike last year, there are no tickets available to the general public at MCI, which has a capacity of 20,674.

Last year, there were 8,000 tickets still available for the Spartans first-round game against Alabama State in Memphis, Tenn.

MSU athletics spokesman John Lewandowski said the East Coast has a strong following behind Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference teams. With Connecticut (Big East) and Maryland (ACC) also playing in Washington, D.C., Lewandowski said the difficulty getting tickets is no surprise.

“Washington is a hotbed for basketball,” he said. “There was no one of regional interest sent to Memphis.”

MSU, as well as the other teams selected to the tournament, are given a minimum of 350 tickets. Each school also is given the option to purchase an extra 100 tickets for first-round games - MSU took that option.

Lewandowski said those tickets are distributed to family members of the players, MSU faculty and major donors.

Psychology senior Dan Burns won’t be going to Washington, D.C., but he is looking to take in tournament action. Although he doesn’t have tickets for the Midwest games in Chicago, Burns said a trip to the Windy City would be cheaper than traveling with MSU because it’s a shorter drive.

“I think we’re going to try to scalp some tickets,” Burns said.

Spartan fans thinking of making the trip to the capital city do have options, though.

A round-trip flight on Northwest Airlines from Detroit was available for $587 on Monday night. But most airlines are charging between $800 and $900.

The costs for traveling via rental car on the highways will vary depending on age, amount of insurance coverage and vehicle size.

“The cheapest way to go would be to get the cheapest vehicle,” said Lori Parrish, a customer service representative for Thrifty Car Rental.

Packaging sophomore Adam Brakoniecki said it is best to drive in your own car or a friend’s. Brakoniecki and a group of friends made the trip to Minneapolis for last year’s Final Four, but said he doesn’t plan to go this year.

“Money was the big reason,” he said. “Planes were too much. It was much cheaper to drive there.”

But transportation isn’t the only concern Spartan travelers will face. Hotel accommodations are questionable.

“Everything is pretty much booked,” said Emanuel Sterc, a Marriott booking representative. “But there are still a few reservations available.”

The Courtyard by Marriott, 900 F St. NW, a block away from the MCI Center, still has rooms available. The cheapest room goes for $219 per night.

However, there are cheaper options available.

A studio apartment at the Residence Inn at Dupont Circle, 2120 P St. NW, is going for $179 per night. It is about a 10 to 15-minute drive from the MCI Center.

Another Marriott, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, has a room for $99 a night.

Sterc said there is no way to tell how long rooms will last.

To get the full experience of the trip to the nation’s capital, fans will need to leave even earlier.

A Spartan pre-game pep rally, sponsored by the MSU Alumni Association, the Ralph Young Fund and the MSU Rebounder’s Club will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Friday in Murali’s Restaurant, 901 Ninth St. NW in Washington, D.C. - a short walk from the MCI Center.

Staff writer Ryan Wallace contributed to this report.

Romando J. Dixson can be reached at


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