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Travel tips for following Michigan State to Minneapolis

Michigan State’s upset win over Duke Sunday has Spartan fans jumping for joy about their team earning a berth to the Final Four. And there’s certainly more than a few who are considering a last-moment trip to Minneapolis to see the Spartans take on Texas Tech.

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For those thinking about making the trek, here are some tidbits you should know about getting there, finding a place to stay, getting into the game, and travel around town.

Getting to Minneapolis

One perk to the Final Four being in Minneapolis is that there are numerous direct flights there from both Grand Rapids and Detroit.

On travel site Kayak, a round trip ticket to return on Sunday can be purchased for as little as $538.00 as of this writing. That’s flying on discount airline Spirit.

There are multiple other offerings for less than $600.00 that utilize Spirit for the leg to Minneapolis, and a combination of other airlines for the return trip.

If you’re on the west side of the mitten, then you can fly out of Grand Rapids on Friday and return Sunday for $762.00 per seat with Delta.

For those of you who want to stay through Monday in case the Spartans make the championship game, prices are as low as $451.00 round trip to return Tuesday instead of Sunday when flying from Detroit. The lowest price out of Grand Rapids for the Friday to Tuesday trip is still $762.00.

Flying to Minneapolis on Saturday morning may seem like a brilliant plan to save a night in a hotel room, but the airfares to fly on game day are actually a bit more expensive. Depending on the pricing of the hotel, it paying extra to fly Saturday could wash out any savings of one less night of lodging.

It’s possible you may find fares different than these depending on your preferred travel website.

Where to Stay

Kayak lists multiple hotels within 10 miles of US Bank Stadium where you can stay from Friday and Saturday nights for less than $400.00 including taxes and fees. If you choose to stay through Monday night for the championship game, be prepared to shell out closer to $1,000.00 total for lodging.

Airbnb does offer an opportunity to save some cash, with private rooms as low as $36.00 per night. Entire places are a little more varied in their pricing, but I did find a studio apartment for $188.00 per night that’s about 15 minutes from US Bank Stadium.

There are pros and cons for both hotels and Airbnb, but for now at least it seems that there are some sensible options for lodging in the area.

Ticket Prices

As of this writing, ticket prices on StubHub for Saturday’s action are starting at about $350.00 apiece, before taxes and fees. That’s for an upper level baseline seat inside US Bank Stadium. If you’re picky and want to watch from a sideline perspective, prepare yourself to pay at least $386.00 before taxes and fees.

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According to ticket price tracking website TickPick, the get-in price is just about $350.00.

On Ticketmaster, the lowest price is $637.00 for a mid-level corner section seat.

The silver lining to these prices is that a ticket gets you into the full Saturday session. So you’ll be able to watch Auburn vs. Virginia in the early game and stick around for Michigan State vs. Texas Tech. Consider it a double-feature.

As of this writing, there are numerous tickets available for Monday’s championship game that are $150.00 or less. This is likely because no one will know who is in the game until Saturday night’s games are over. Again, they are upper level corner section seats, so don’t expect to be sitting court-side for this rate.

If you’re confident in the Spartans beating Texas Tech on Saturday, then getting your tickets for the championship game now is probably the way to go.

Getting Around Town

The city of Minneapolis claims one of the largest bus and light rail networks in the US on its website. Given that it’s government-run, it’s likely to be the form of transportation with the lowest likelihood of price spikes with the Final Four in town.

For more freedom, car rentals are available at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for less than $60.00 total, according to Kayak. That’s with a compact car to pick up on Friday evening and return on Sunday morning.

Prices are within a few dollars either way of $100.00 if you plan on sticking around for the championship game and returning on Tuesday.

Of course Uber and Lyft are available, but expect to be hit with surcharges since it’s the weekend one of the biggest sporting events in the country.

Final Advice

If there’s any advice I can give, it would be these two points: be thorough with your research and don’t count on prices to go down later in the week.

The advent of the internet has revolutionized travel, and shopping for the lowest fares and lodging prices can be as simple as a few clicks. Long gone are the days of having to go see a travel agent to get the best deals.

But be mindful of who is offering the lowest prices. Some airlines charge extra for carry-on bags, for example. That will lower the list-price of the ticket, but you’ll end up getting shelling out extra nickels and dimes for amenities other airlines include up front.

Big events always lead to prices going up for travel, but that doesn’t mean that every airline, hotel or rental car company subscribes to that logic of doing business. There are still some good deals to be had. But those deals aren’t infinite, so what may seem like a steal of a hotel room may not be available in 10 minutes.

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