For the teams playing Saturday in the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Final Four, it has been a rocky path to the Promised Land, full of upsets and close calls. But for the fans of the four teams still standing, it has also been a long — and pricey — road to Houston, where the Final Four and championship games will be played.
Among the fans of the remaining teams — Syracuse University, the University of North Carolina, the University of Oklahoma and Villanova University — supporters of the 'Nova Wildcats have not fared the best in their wallets, according to data provided to International Business Times by Runzheimer International, a cost-intelligence and business management consulting firm based in Wisconsin.
According to a cost composite put together by the company — which factored in expected costs for hotels, meals, coffee, beer and taxi rides — a fan who followed Villanova from city to city throughout March Madness would have spent $5,877.61. That dwarfed expenses for fans of North Carolina ($4,952.62), Oklahoma ($4,732.39) and Syracuse ($4,632.39). The outsized cost for a Wildcats super fan largely comes down to the team playing its first two games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. While a fan might have more to do in the Big Apple outside the games, the city entails far higher costs for pretty much everything.
"What this research really shows that there can be variance that occurs from city to city that may be surprising," said Ken Robinson, market analyst at Runzheimer.
Looking at each city in which the Final Four teams played throughout the tournament, the Runzheimer data tracked the cost of a three-star hotel near the city center, taxi rides to and from the arena, three meals per day, a 16-ounce latte and a single beer. After a slew of pit stops across the country, all four teams are now in Houston for the remainder of the tournament (the final is scheduled for Monday). Because of that, fans of Villanova, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Syracuse catch a bit of a break.
"Houston [had] the lowest overall cost for getting around, eating, so on," Robinson said.
Of course, getting a ticket to the game isn't included in that calculation. And tickets aren't cheap, especially to the Final Four. According to data from ticket aggregator TiqIQ, a pass to this weekend's Final Four averaged $1,096.09 on the secondary market, with a get-in price of $256. USA Today reported, citing data provided to the paper by StubHub and ticket-aggregator SeatGeek, that some fans were able to get in for as little as $170, but others paid more than $4,000.
According to TiqIQ, tickets have been relatively pricey along the way for fans following the teams, although not quite at the levels for Houston's Final Four, which boasts the "most expensive price points at this year’s tournament." That's one of the final big splurges for the road-weary (and perhaps nearly broke) superfan following his or her team.
The absolute last major cost, however, would likely be airfare. But according to Priceline, it might not be so bad — the average roundtrip airfare for Houston nationwide is, all things considered, a relatively affordable $298. For fans traveling from the airports closest to the four remaining teams, that figure ranged from $519 in Oklahoma City to as much as $1,481 in North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham airport.