Tick­ets for bout are not fly­ing out door

Less than three weeks be­fore May­weather meets Mc­Gre­gor, fight is not sold out.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Lance Pug­mire

Floyd May­weather Jr. and Conor Mc­Gre­gor are both apt to flaunt their wealth out­side the box­ing ring and UFC oc­tagon.

And with ticket prices set for their Aug. 26 fight among the high­est in sports his­tory, both fight­ers are count­ing on those at­tend­ing to do the same.

Ring­side seats cost $10,000 apiece at T-Mo­bile Arena in Las Ve­gas, the same price for a ticket to May­weather’s fight against Manny Pac­quiao in May 2015. A mid-level ticket in the 20,000-plus-seat arena’s up­per bowl will cost $3,500, while the cheap­est ticket of­fered fetched $500, with those sell­ing out quickly.

May­weather had a prom­i­nent voice in set­ting the prices — de­spite ob­jec­tions by those more as­tute in the ticket-sell­ing busi­ness.

May­weather, his fight man­ager Al Hay­mon and May­weather Pro­mo­tions CEO Leonard Ellerbe had rea­son to aim high in what’s ex­pected to be the 40-yearold fighter’s farewell from the ring against the charis­matic Mc­Gre­gor, a 6-1 un­der­dog mak­ing his pro box­ing de­but.

Their four-city in­ter­na­tional press tour to Los An­ge­les, Toronto, New York and Lon­don last month proved they’d cap­tured the world’s at­ten­tion as more than 10,000 fans ap­peared at each stop to hail and jeer the five-di­vi­sion cham­pion May­weather and re­cent two-belt UFC cham­pion Mc­Gre­gor.

“I’ve never seen any­thing like it,” said AEG Pres­i­dent Dan Beck­er­man, whose com­pany staged three of the tour stops and counts TMo­bile Arena among its sports em­pire. “I was blown away by the re­sponse for the press con­fer­ences. It was clear that the de­mand for this fight was go­ing to be in­cred­i­ble.”

The ques­tion now is, will that en­thu­si­asm fill the arena?

Of­fi­cials con­nected to the pub­lic sale of tick­ets said that, as of late last week, 3,000 seats re­mained, with bro­kers and tick­et­ing agents es­ti­mat­ing that 4,000 more are still avail­able on the sec­ondary mar­ket.

That’s po­ten­tially as many as 7,000 tick­ets to be sold less than three weeks be­fore fight night.

“This money-grab fight is a pro­mo­tion to see how much can be made off one night,” said Oscar De La Hoya, a fight pro­moter and former six-di­vi­sion world cham­pion who is stag­ing a com­pet­ing South­land fight card that same night and the Sept. 16 mid­dleweight ti­tle match be­tween Canelo Alvarez and Gen­nady Golovkin. “When you see their com­mer­cial, hear [the par­tic­i­pants] talk about the gate … it’s all about money. Yes, this is a busi­ness, but every­one’s for­get­ting about the fight, which May­weather-Mc­Gre­gor is not.”

Ellerbe of May­weather Pro­mo­tions said De La Hoya has lit­tle room to talk af­ter stag­ing a dud of a Cinco de Mayo fight. Ellerbe said De La Hoya “flat out lied” in call­ing next month’s Alvarez-Golovkin fight a true sell­out, with Solky pre­dict­ing “more than 5,000” tick­ets to that bout will emerge on the sec­ondary mar­ket af­ter Aug. 26.

Those in­volved in May­weather-Mc­Gre­gor ticket sales don’t ex­press deep con­cerns.

“It’s get­ting un­justly beaten up in the press, but I’m see­ing peo­ple buy­ing tick­ets ev­ery day,” said Ken Solky, former pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Assn. of Ticket Bro­kers and head of a pow­er­ful ticket bro­ker­age agency, lasve­g­a­stick­ets.com and 1-800-LAS-VE­GAS. “Let’s be hon­est: The place is go­ing to be packed.”

Solky has a long re­la­tion­ship with May­weather Pro­mo­tions and said he re­ceived 600 tick­ets from the com­pany to sell, with pos­si­bly more to come, while ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a to­tal of “10% of the house,” about 2,000 tick­ets, to sell on the sec­ondary mar­ket.

On Fri­day, Solky re­ported, “I just sold a pack­age of seats for $496,000 an hour ago.”

He said the 48 tick­ets sold for an av­er­age of $10,333 apiece, with 28 ring­side for $19,000 apiece and 20 up­per­level seats at $2,000, for a “cor­po­rate or­der on be­half of in­ter­na­tional clients.I made a hand­some, tidy profit be­tween my cost and sales price that falls nicely be­tween my nor­mal av­er­age of 20 to 30%.”

He de­clined to say how much profit he shares with May­weather Pro­mo­tions.

Solky said the fight­ers, their camps and event host MGM Re­sorts, which sets aside a num­ber of tick­ets for its in­vited guests/gam­blers who travel to Las Ve­gas and stay and bet at MGM prop­er­ties, “take up to 70%” of the tick­ets.

The ticket price has al­ready fu­eled high live-gate sales re­ceipts that are ex­pected to sur­pass the fight­record $72 mil­lion that May­weather drew for his win over Pac­quiao.

That is de­spite a steep face-value price up­grade for UFC fans used to spend­ing $500 for a good seat. It’ll cost quite a bit more for peo­ple look­ing to get a ticket this close to fight night. As of Monday, the cheap­est ticket avail­able on StubHub was $1,800 for the up­per level.

“Dude, we’re over $60 mil­lion in ticket sales,” UFC Pres­i­dent Dana White told The Times in a Thurs­day tele­phone in­ter­view. “Do you know the best year ever for the UFC — for 44 events — was $80 mil­lion?

“The big­gest Su­per Bowl in his­tory was $103 mil­lion. We’re go­ing to be pretty close to the big­gest one-day record. And if you think about the NFL … it’s 32 teams sell­ing tick­ets to their sea­son-ticket hold­ers, and the Su­per Bowl’s in a … sta­dium and we’re in a … arena. How the … can you be dis­ap­pointed in that? That’s in­sane. Amaz­ing. And peo­ple are go­ing to start com­ing into town and buy­ing the rest of the tick­ets soon.”

White ad­mits there has been far more dis­cus­sion about the per­son­al­i­ties of May­weather and Mc­Gre­gor and the things they’re say­ing ver­sus the typ­i­cal dis­sec­tion of how each man can win.

Like many box­ing purists scoff­ing at the matchup, De La Hoya takes sat­is­fac­tion in the num­ber of un­sold May­weather-Mc­Gre­gor tick­ets as his Golden Boy Pro­mo­tions stages an Aug. 26 box­ing match at StubHub Cen­ter head­lined by former four-di­vi­sion world cham­pion Miguel Cotto ver­sus Ja­pan’s Yoshi­hiro Kamegai.

“The fact that the box­ing fan is be­hind our pro­mo­tion and that we’re go­ing to do close to a mil­lion homes on HBO is proof box­ing peo­ple still want to watch a pure, com­pet­i­tive fight,” De La Hoya said.

“Mc­Gre­gor is step­ping in­side a ring he’s never stepped into in his life against the best boxer of our gen­er­a­tion.

“What makes me think he has a chance? Be­cause he knocks out, taps out, chokes out or kicks MMA fight­ers? He’s not go­ing to be able to do that against May­weather. Be­cause he hits hard? [In losses to May­weather], Miguel Cotto hit hard. I hit hard. Manny Pac­quiao and [Mar­cos] Maidana hit hard. It’s not about that. It’s about hav­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the ring and Mc­Gre­gor has none. He has no chance what­so­ever.

“There’s no ques­tion this is a spec­ta­cle, a once-in-al­ife­time matchup be­tween cross­over stars that runs a lot of lines from USA ver­sus Ire­land, African Amer­i­can and Cau­casian, MMA fan ver­sus box­ing purists.”

Asked if May­weather and Hay­mon have un­fairly gouged the pub­lic with high ticket prices, Solky said it was a gamble worth tak­ing con­sid­er­ing that $600 mil­lion in to­tal rev­enue is ex­pected to be pro­duced when pay-per-view buys, spon­sor­ship, in­ter­na­tional tele­vi­sion rights, closed-cir­cuit theater show­ings and food, bev­er­age and mer­chan­dise sales are tal­lied. And that’s be­fore casino busi­ness is added.

“If the gate is short and there’s still $600 mil­lion in the pot, that’s only 5% of the money com­ing in,” Solky said. “Yes, the prices are high. But this gate will be record sell­ing.”

Mike Lawrie Getty Images

RING­SIDE SEATS to watch Floyd May­weather Jr., hold­ing mi­cro­phone, fight Conor Mc­Gre­gor on Aug. 26 in Las Ve­gas will cost box­ing fans $10,000 apiece.

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