TPOL has been MIA since flying down to San Antonio. Admittedly, I have been depressed because I have had to endure yet another loss from a team that resides in Michigan. At this point, Michigan residents have zero hope. The Red Wings are not in the playoffs. The Tigers are terrible. The Pistons have Blake Griffin. Michigan football went 8-5. All we have is the Lions. That’s a recipe for alcoholism.
Still, as they say on Broadway, the blog must go on. And so it is with a heavy heart that I give you my review of the Alamodome and my second experience at the Final Four. (In 2013, Michigan lost the first time I went as well.)
When Michigan played that team that technically didn’t win the championship in 2013, I paid $800 for two seats on the floor in the Louisville student section. This time, my friend got me two tickets from the box office, after Michigan beat the nun, for $250 each. I’m fine paying retail for tickets in advance because 1) I know I have a seat and 2) I know the tickets are real. Having said that, TPOL is the best ticket scalper this side of the Rio Grande (see Ohio State vs. Michigan: Advanced Ticket Scalping). While I was there, I was offered tickets right and left on the Sunday before the game, at restaurants the day of the game, and on my way to the stadium. If I had to do it again, I still would have bought the tickets in advance.
TPOL’s TIP: If you’re traveling alone, it is easy to find a single ticket in a good seat for a great value.
What a weird place for a Final Four. First, getting to San Antonio is not easy. I booked Southwest from PHX to SAT after Michigan beat Houston for 11.5k and 11.7k Rapid Reward points. I’m lucky I did so because tickets to San Antonio were astronomical leading up to the game. Many of my friends either flew into Houston and rented a car or went through Austin to get a somewhat decent fare.
The outrageous prices extended to the hotels. Basic hotels were going for $1k a night. Initially, I thought it wise to stay at the Four Points at the airport on points. Then I heard about Uber surge pricing that made this short trip cost over $100. I ended up staying with a friend for free and waited out the surge by eating and drinking late into the night.
TPOL’S TIP: As much as I hate taxis, I would rather take one on the meter than pay surge.
I understand why Final Fours are held in football stadiums instead of basketball arenas. The Alamodome has a capacity of 72,000 while AT&T Center where the despised Spurs play can only accommodate 18,581. While tickets would be exponentially higher if they were at the AT&T Center, the atmosphere would be much better. Although the Michigan fans were noticeable and loud, the venue lacked the intimacy of a typical basketball game. Furthermore, it has been shown that shooters have a problem in football stadiums because it distorts their depth perception. Of course, this was not the case for Donte DiVincenzo who incidentally just hit another three.
Like the Michigan fans who did a great job of pre-drinking before the game, the Michigan team came out belligerent. Shots were falling, the defense was on lock, and the momentum was on our side. Like the Michigan players whose dominance faded ten minutes in to the game, the Michigan fans were unable to refuel due to the lack of alcohol served on the premises. Whether it’s a bowl game or a basketball game, the prohibition on the sale of alcohol is asinine.
Now hear this: After the national anthem, I was hype for the start of the game. Ms. TPOL and I were standing up and clapping for the tip off when suddenly the lady behind us told us to sit down. “It’s rude to stand, we can’t see,” she said. I immediately turned around and said that I would not sit down and that I paid for the right to stand and sit as I pleased. The lady left and came back. Moments later, the SAPD came to my seat to inquire as to what was happening. I told them that I was cheering my team from the upright position to which they chuckled and told the angry lady that I have a right to do so.
TPOL’S TIP: If you want an unobstructed view of action either pay for courtside seats or watch the game at home. Calling the police? Really?
Michigan has a fantastic coach who I used to berate. They also had a great group of guys who played so well late into the season, through the Big Ten Tournament, and throughout March. Unfortunately, they were not good enough to beat Villanova which clearly was the best team in the tournament. At the same time, had this been the old school Pistons, Laimbeer would’ve checked DiVincenzo after he made his second three instead of letting him move around at will.
Another Final Four, another loss. We are the champions? No such thing.