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High travel costs force Buckeye fans to watch Final Four game like hawks from home

Courtesy of the NCAA

Though many Ohio State students will make the trip to New Orleans to cheer on the Buckeyes during their Final Four appearance, some students who plan to watch the tournament this weekend said they will have to find a cheaper alternative.

Chelsea Fraker, a fourth-year in electrical engineering, said she will cheer for the Buckeyes from Columbus, although she would rather be in New Orleans.

“I didn’t get tickets to New Orleans (because of) traveling cost,” Fraker said. “Spring Break depleted my bank account.”

Fraker usually watches OSU athletic events at bars in the South Campus Gateway, but she said she plans to have a cookout at a friend’s house Saturday.

Still, the Buckeyes have not competed in a Final Four since 2007, so some students jumped at the opportunity to participate in OSU basketball history and will travel the more than 900 miles to New Orleans, despite the cost.

Even still, some students’ eagerness to travel with the team was thwarted by the additional cost of travel.

Whether driving, flying or riding the train, this trip could put a dent in fans’ wallets. Ticket prices for some was not the issue, as student all-access passes, which include admittance to the National Semifinal Game and National Championship Game, were only $25. Because of the uncertainty of March Madness, many students did not make travel plans until after the Buckeyes’ 77-70 Elite Eight victory against Syracuse. Students had about a week to make arrangements for travel and lodging.

In addition to steep hotel prices, some students complained most hotels close to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome were sold out by Monday, when student all-access passes went on sale.

Students without travel plans for the game have the option to watch the National Semifinal Game in the Ohio Union’s Great Hall Meeting Room. The Union is working with the Sportsmanship Council to provide entertainment. Block “O” will lead activities for free prizes.

Eve Esch, director of Ohio Union Events and lead planner of the watch party, said she overheard students who work in her office try to come up with carpool plans to New Orleans.

“That (travel cost) is definitely a huge reason for us to host it,” Esch said. “Folks who don’t have the means or ability can have somewhere to go and have fun too.”

Esch said she hopes that a few hundred students will come to the event.

“We just wanted to make sure that folks had the option, if they wanted. A spot to watch the game on a big screen and maybe have some free snacks and a chance to win some free prizes,” Esch said. “We wanted to be able to offer that to them.”

The National Semifinal Game is set to begin at about 9 p.m. Saturday and doors for the watch party at the Union will open at 6 p.m. The Union will also feature 40 percent off on select basketball items at Station 88, boneless and bone-in Jayhawk jerk chicken wings at Sloopy’s Diner, blueberry “Jayhawk” gelato at Espress-OH and drink specials from 8 p.m. to close at Woody’s Tavern.

Phillip McMahan, a fourth-year in political science and strategic communication, said he plans to cheer on the Buckeyes with friends at the watch party.

“I am broke,” McMahan said. “I can probably afford to go, but then I’ll be real pressed this quarter.”

McMahan said this is an exciting time to be a fan. He said he thinks the basketball team is playing to their full potential and will do well Saturday.

“I expect to win,” McMahan said. “I actually had a dream last night that we played Kentucky, which means that we’ll have to get past Kansas, so it must happen now.”

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