Two years of planning have come to an end as the NCAA men’s volleyball Final Four has arrived at Long Beach State. The tournament lasts from May 2-4.
While the Final Four could be considered a home game for the 49ers, it isn’t. All Long Beach memorabilia was taken down and paying advertisers in the Walter Pyramid were covered up to make the court as neutral as possible.
“We aren’t running the show for this at all,” said Andy Fee, Long Beach State athletics director. “Sponsors are always trying to get their name out there, but these are the rules that the NCAA puts in place.”
The bid to host the tournament came under previous athletic director Cindy Masner and head coach Alan Knipe in 2017.
Long Beach submitted its bid to the NCAA with $100,200 in ‘projected’ revenue and $85,470 in ‘projected’ expenses. Hotels, parking, security and venue seating for all teams involved in the tournament are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to expenses covered by the NCAA. The difference between revenue and expenses is paid to the NCAA, not the school.
“Once the bid was locked in, the keys were handed to the NCAA and we basically lose control,” Fee said.
The Big West will have a presence at the tournament, but will not be there in full force.
“We’ll be shooting for ‘Legacy’ which will be the number one priority,” said Big West assistant director of communications, Olivia Phelps, of the documentary that’s being filmed on the men’s volleyball team.
Athletics won’t lose or earn any money, but because of the two teams projected to make the finals are Long Beach and Hawai’i, there is a high demand for seats that will not be filled.
The budgets are built around what is bid — Long Beach and the NCAA agreed on 4,300 seats. To add more seats, the athletics department would take a big hit, which Fee decided was not ideal. The estimated cost for additional seating would be around $45,000.
“We did talk to the NCAA about additional seats, but the risk comes back to the university,” Fee said. “We would love to say that Hawai’i and Long Beach would be in the championship game, but if that weren’t the case, we might not be able to fill up the whole stadium.”
Athletics faced a similar scenario when Blair Field hosted the Regional and Super Regional rounds of the NCAA tournament. There was a high demand to get in, but not enough seats to go around.
“People are trying to get tickets. They’re trying to get in but they can’t,” Fee said. “We want a vibe that it’s not easy to get in on game day. Other places have that culture already of buying tickets or even season tickets in advance. We want to train our fans to support our programs.”
Tickets sold out within hours for the semifinal round of the tournament, but 200 tickets were held for LBSU students on a first come first serve basis.
If Long Beach advances to the championship game, 200 more tickets will be held for LBSU students and a watch party will be available for those who cannot get it.
For those who aren’t able to get in, Long Beach will be hosting a free watch party at Hammer Field 4 p.m. Thursday next to the Walter Pyramid.