Practices are ticket for fans


Being shut out in the ticket department doesn't mean you can't catch the teams in the NCAA tournament at the Baltimore Arena.

All eight teams will be practicing at the Arena today, and those sessions are open and free to the public. Tomorrow's four winners will play Saturday, and their Friday practices are closed.

The East subregional at the Arena has been sold out since last April, but there are still tickets to be had. Brokers are asking anywhere from $90 to $125 per ticket for either of tomorrow's sessions, and from $110 to $300 for Saturday's second-round doubleheader.

Tickets probably will be available on the street tomorrow, but scalping -- selling tickets for more than face value -- is illegal in Baltimore City. The maximum fine was increased from $250 to $1,000 last June, when the City Council passed a tougher law at the urging of Orioles owner Peter Angelos.

Don't expect hundreds of tickets to become available for Saturday's doubleheader, after the field is pared in half. Participating colleges receive 350 tickets, but only for the session in which their team is playing.

In other words, if Oklahoma State loses to Drexel in tomorrow's first-round game, the fans who bought tickets through Oklahoma State will not be able to get tickets for the second-round games Saturday.

Even if colleges can't muster 350 followers, the schools must buy those tickets. The Arena ticket office was not involved in any resales by the colleges.

UMBC, the host school, took approximately 4,000 tickets, the Arena approximately 3,400. Another 3,000 were made available through a public lottery. The official ticket distribution was for a strip to all three sessions.

There is no re-entry to the Arena during a session, so you can't leave after the Wake Forest-North Carolina A&T; game, for instance, and hand your ticket off to a friend who wants to see Minnesota-Saint Louis.

Beer will not be sold during the NCAA tournament at the Arena, which is a smoke-free facility.

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