By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
NEW ORLEANS – David Knight (@SEC_Knight
) is the Director of Championship Ticket Operations for the Southeastern Conference and is responsible for the ticketing process for the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, which takes place this Thursday through Sunday at the New Orleans Arena.
Knight sat down with the SEC Digital Network on Tuesday to explain the ticket process and offer some advice for fans attending the tournament in this SEC Q&A.
SEC Digital Network: How do the tickets and different sessions work and how early can fans get to the arena each day?
“On Thursday and Friday, we will have two different sessions each day with two games per session. We will clear the arena after the second game in the first session each day. For example, on Thursday, we will clear the building after the second game and then have a night session on Thursday night. Thursday and Friday are the only days in which we have multiple sessions. There are six sessions and six different tickets for the entire tournament for a total of 11 games. Gates open 60 minutes prior to each session on Thursday and Friday and 90 minutes prior on Saturday and Sunday.”
SEC Digital Network: For fans who don’t yet have a ticket to this week’s tournament, what should they do if they’re interested in attending this week’s games?
“It’s a good problem to have, but we are sold out for this year’s tournament. We’ve been excited to see the interest in this tournament; it’s very strong. A lot of times, there are fans who either their team loses and they’re ready to go home and fans can buy tickets from them, or there are fans who maybe are down there just to watch their team play and are willing to sell their tickets to other sessions. There are always opportunities to get tickets in those ways, but we are officially sold out for the entire tournament.”
SEC Digital Network: For fans who might be trying to buy a ticket outside of New Orleans Arena, what advice or cautions would you give them?
“In the past, occasionally we have had some counterfeiting issues. The best way possible way to tell when looking at the ticket is that on the stub of every ticket, there is a holographic strip that has SEC logos on it. If you don’t see the holographic strip with SEC logos, then it’s a reason to be concerned. That’s your main clue as to any counterfeit tickets. Counterfeiters have gotten very good, so a lot of times, they are able to make some holographic strips that look similar to ours, so fans should be very hesitant to buy if they do question what the ticket looks like.”
SEC Digital Network: With so many great things to do in New Orleans, can fans leave the arena and re-enter during the sessions?
“Within each session, fans can’t come in and out of the session. For instance, if game one ends and you want to leave the building, you can’t come back for game two. There’s really not a lot of time in between games. However, in between sessions, fans will leave and can come back for the next session if they have the next session’s tickets. If you’re going to come for both games of both session, there is no re-entry. New Orleans is a unique place for the tournament and is a lot of fun. I’d say probably 95 percent of the out-of-town fans who attend the games will be staying in that downtown area and walking or taking the trolley to the games. It creates a neat atmosphere for fans because it is very much a walking city in the downtown area.”
SEC Digital Network: What is the Sunkist Soda SEC FanFare all about and how can fans attend?
“FanFare is going to be outside this year in Champion’s Square which is a really neat area outside the Superdome and New Orleans Arena. It is a good social atmosphere for fans in between sessions or before sessions. It is free to everybody and there will be food, drinks and entertainment for all ages. It is situated in a place where most of the flow of the people from downtown New Orleans will naturally pass through it as they walk to the arena. I think it will turn into a really good congregating area for fans. The SEC Legends will be there at certain points and there will be pep rallies on Saturday there."
SEC Digital Network: For fans who already have tickets to this week’s tournament, what should they do if they have any issues with their tickets once on site in New Orleans?
“Hopefully there are no issues, but there are always a few that come up. The main arena box office is off of Girod Street; if somebody does have an issue, they can come to the box office and we will address their issue when they come there. There is also an auxiliary box office on the main level of the arena that is also a place where we can address any issues that come up. We always try to help fans out as much as we can. There are some limitations in doing that, but we will do our very best.”
SEC Digital Network: This year’s tournament is sold out, but how does the process work if fans want to purchase tickets for future years of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament?
“A lot depends on what facility we are in. For instance, at the Georgia Dome, we really have an unlimited amount of tickets and seats to sell, so we typically will sell to past purchasers first and then open it up to the general public. In a place like New Orleans or Nashville, there is limited seating with less than 18,000 seats. We have a lot less supply and therefore a lot higher demand. We don’t have a lot of opportunities, except for past purchasers in those situations. Over 60 or 70 percent of the tickets for the entire tournament, wherever we are, are going to be sold through our 12 schools, or next year 14 schools. That’s where the majority of the tickets are sold. Most schools sell to their season-tickets holders first and then potentially open it up for others to purchase. It’s really a neat event because you do have all 12 schools involved and fans from all 12 schools, which is rare to have all in one place at one time.”
March 8 (Thursday)
Game 1 #8 LSU vs. #9 Arkansas [SEC Network] Noon CT
Game 2 #5 Alabama vs. #12 South Carolina [SEC Network] 2:30 p.m. CT
Game 3 #7 Ole Miss vs. #10 Auburn [SEC Network] 6:30 p.m. CT
Game 4 #6 Mississippi State vs. #11 Georgia [SEC Network] 9:00 p.m. CT
March 9 (Friday)
Game 5 Gm 1 Winner vs. #1 Kentucky [SEC Network] Noon CT
Game 6 Gm 2 Winner vs. #4 Florida [SEC Network] 2:30 p.m. CT
Game 7 Gm 3 Winner vs. #2 Tennessee [SEC Network] 6:30 p.m. CT
Game 8 Gm 4 Winner vs. #3 Vanderbilt [SEC Network] 9:00 p.m. CT
March 10 (Saturday)
Game 9 Gm 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner [ABC] Noon CT
Game 10 Gm 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner [ABC] 2:30 p.m. CT
March 11 (Sunday)
Game 11 Gm 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner [ABC] Noon CT