Anyone looking on the Big Ten’s website Monday for tournament ticket information found a large headline saying, “Standing room only tickets now on sale.”
For the first time in conference history, the tournament is a sellout before it starts. But ticket brokers and travel experts say you can still make the trip and see the games if you’re willing to stay flexible.
Brokers like StubHub and Circle City tickets still have several hundred tickets left for the six different sessions, which start with first-round games this Thursday. Purdue fans who buy upper level seats can watch their Boilermakers play Thursday for less than $50. The prices start going up on Friday, especially when Indiana plays at noon.
Circle City Tickets owner, Mike Peduto says those prices have a wide price range, starting around $60 and going up from there.
“It can be $600 to $700 for some of the best seats,” Peduto said.
Booking a room in downtown Chicago will be a challenge, especially with the tournament coinciding with St. Patrick’s Day weekend. But travel experts say several downtown hotels have a handfull of rooms opening from time to time as guests cancel their stays. However, it is a very fluid situation as the outcomes of games can influence room pricing and availability.
“This is going to be changing every hour on the hour as we go forward in the week,” said Bethanne Harris-Brown, an agent with The Travel Authority.
Thursday night rooms may cost $280. Friday night rooms will likely cost $380, and even more on Saturday. The prices drop off on Sunday, as fewer teams remain in the tournament and more fans will have gone home.
If you want to pay less, you’ll need to book a room several miles outside of downtown Chicago.
Anyone booking a flight from Indianapolis to Chicago for the tournament needs to act fast too. Those flights are filling up, and the seats are costing between $350 and $800.
If you don’t want to drive or fly, Megabus has round trips to Chicago. If you go out on Thursday and come back on Monday, you’ll pay between $50 and $75.
The Indiana University and Purdue University Alumni Associations have arranged for fans to have a good time in Chicago. I.U. fans will establish their home base starting Thursday, then move to a different location Friday:
- Thursday: Joe’s Bar at 940 W. Weed St., Chicago, IL
- Friday: Market Bar at 1113 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL
Purdue fans will start their pregame and postgame gatherings Thursday at Union Park Lounge at 228 S. Racine Ave., Chicago, IL
Both Alumni Associations will be running shuttles from the bars to the United Center for the games.