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March Madness tickets for Buffalo games available to the public starting Saturday

The last time March Madness games were played in Buffalo was in 2017. The question is whether there will be increased demand for tickets because of the pandemic.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Alright sports fans, it's never too early to start thinking about March Madness, which will return to Buffalo next year for the first time in five years. 

Tickets will open up to the general public starting Saturday

While many are focused on Halloween and Sunday's Bills game — something else is happening this weekend — tickets for March Madness at the KeyBank Center will open to the public. 

"Get your tickets early, don't wait, like I said don't wait, this event typically sells out," said Simon Gray, director of athletics for Niagara University.

5,000 tickets will be available to the public — ranging from $250 to $300. But, after the ticket presale on Wednesday, some tickets have already hit the secondary market for less than that. Tickets are for both sessions — March 17 and 19 — six games in total. 

Canisius College and Niagara University will once again be the host schools.

"If everything lines up correctly, there's probably a great deal of pent up demand as far as people who missed last year's tournament that are looking forward to getting back to the normalcy of the tournament in 2022." said Patrick Kaler, CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara.

March Madness games were only played in the state of Indiana this past season and were cancelled the season before that because of COVID. 

The last time the tournament was here was in 2017. This will be the seventh time Buffalo has hosted March Madness games.

"Buffalo is always one of the top selling destinations for NCAA basketball and we always sell out very quickly that's one of the reasons why the NCAA likes to come back to Buffalo," Kaler said, "We're expecting an economic impact of anywhere between $7 million to $7.5 million, we're being a little conservative at this point just because of COVID and not necessarily not knowing what might happen between now and then."

It's hoped that fans from Canada will be able to attend the games. 

"We've also drawn very well from Southern Ontario, so what the border situation will be in March, none of us can predict necessarily that's also an area where we've had heightened sense of awareness and enthusiasm coming from," Gray said.

The UB Men's Basketball team has made it to the NCAA Tournament four times in the past seven seasons, most recently advancing to the Second Round in 2018.

"I think what you did is you built a fun expectation along with it, but along with it you're building a standard of hopefully excellence what our athletic department is about," said Jim Whitesell, head coach of UB Men's Basketball.

When asked if that increases the pressure, Whitesell said it is expected.

"I don't think they feel pressure, I think they feel hey, we like that that's part of the standard," Whitesell said.

Buffalo is also scheduled to get March Madness games in 2026 — you're allowed to get excited even though that's over four years away. 

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