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Road trip: Gonzaga’s opening rounds in Salt Lake City offers fans a variety of travel options

By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

Gonzaga came out of Selection Sunday with its third No. 1 seed in school history to the NCAA Tournament and now they are headed to Salt Lake City to play the winner of Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M on Thursday.

Time to pack those bags and head south to the Vivant Smart Home Arena, home of John Stockton’s Utah Jazz. Ok, it’s not that easy, but if you can get out of work for a few days, here is how much it will cost to watch the Bulldogs in the first- and second-round games of the tournament.

First off, securing tickets to the Big Dance.

As of Sunday night, tickets for just GU’s games (figuring a win on Thursday, No. 1 seeds are 135-1 historically against No. 16 seeds) would cost about $275 minimum or $1,400 on the high end. For all-session tickets (to watch every game in Salt Lake), expect to pay a minimum of $325 and a upwards of $1,000.

Then, how do you get to Salt Lake City?

If routine turbulence doesn’t frighten you, a flight out of Spokane International Airport currently is $517 nonstop roundtrip on Delta. About an hour and 15 minutes in the air and you’ll touch down at Salt Lake City International Airport.

Waiting to pull the trigger could strain the wallet even more. Prices are sitting anywhere between $800 and $1,000 roundtrip on Alaska or United with a stop or two thrown in for good measure.

Or maybe you have aerophobia like NFL Hall of Famer John Madden, a road trip east on I-90 and south on I-15 might be more your speed.

A straight shot to Salt Lake takes about 11 hours if you don’t utilize the rest stops or maybe you packed snacks and drinks to save time.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average fuel economy for a car/truck/SUV is 21.1 miles a gallon. A 1442-mile trip would take about 68 gallons of gas. Dividing 68 into three (for Montana, Idaho and Utah, the states you drive through and their average gas prices) gas would cost approximately $161 for gas, vehicle depending.

For the true budget option, albeit the most inconvenient, maybe it would be best to try the classic Greyhound bus ride experience. For $273, you could take a 17-hour bus ride departing out of downtown Spokane. As brutal as a 17-hour bus ride might sound, there is free WiFi onboard and plenty of friends to make sitting around you.

Now – unless you decide to sleep in your mode of transportation – it’s time to find a hotel or motel close to the arena. There are myriad of choices ranging from $60 a night in a Motel 6 to as much as $350 a night for a stay in a Marriott all within a mile of Vivant.

Don’t forget to look for a hotel with free parking (a necessity in a packed downtown with limited space for vehicles) and maybe a continental breakfast.

Take advantage of Google’s hotel search option, you can request specific amenities in your prospective hotels to find the perfect place to rest up before you scream your vocal cords raw in the same arena Stockton broke the NBA career assists record.

Continental breakfasts are awesome, as long as you don’t sleep in. But not every hotel has that perk. Plus, there are other meals to plan for anyway.

It is probably safe to assume about $13 a meal on average not including beverages, so over four days, food could add up, especially if celebratory/disappointment drinks are in the cards.

Factor in some sightseeing and activities while you’re there as well. Maybe a trek to the University of Utah’s campus, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a 43-minute drive to Provo, Utah to see BYU might peak your interest.

If you need to take an Uber or Lyft, rates should charge about $8-$10 a mile, which could double during surge times (times of increased demand from riders). So either pack your walking shoes or toss a bike on your rig if you want to cut those expenses out.

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