Politics
Trail Guide: Live coverage of the first Clinton-Trump debate
BUSINESS

For hotels and casinos, Mayweather-Pacquiao fight packs a punch

Mayweather-Pacquiao tickets are particularly costly because the bout is a once-in-a-lifetime event

The clash Saturday between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is pushing ticket and hotel prices in Las Vegas to record heights.

Rooms for fight weekend have jumped as much as $750 over their average daily rates, according to data compiled by Vegas.com. The MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, the fight site, has been selling standard rooms at $1,600, compared with the typical $270 a night.

That's a pittance compared with the cost of fight tickets — more than $100,000 for a ringside seat, or a mere $4,600 for seats in the nosebleed section.

"We've never seen anything like this before," said Vanessa Doleshal, business development manager for the Nevada travel site Vegas.com, which offers booking at 113 of Las Vegas' largest hotels.

The cost of premium live sports and entertainment events has risen sharply even in an era of Internet streaming.

For instance, the face value of tickets to the Super Bowl has jumped about 1,000% in the last 10 years, said Tony Knopp, chief executive of Ticket Manager Inc., a Calabasas firm that manages and tracks ticket sales.

But the frenzy surrounding the Mayweather-Pacquiao match is extreme.

Anticipation has built for several years for a fight between Mayweather — an undefeated champion of five weight categories — and Pacquiao, a popular champion of eight weight classes. Several previous attempts to schedule the fight have fallen through.

Among the primary reasons for the higher prices for tickets to major sporting events are the involvement of deep-pocketed corporations booking seats for their executives, the growth of secondary ticket sellers such as Stubhub.com, and the shrinking size of venues for many sporting events, said David Carter, a USC professor of sports business.

"Three words are at play here: supply and demand," he said.

Tickets to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight are particularly costly because the bout falls under the heading of a once-in-a-lifetime event.

"For many people this is a bucket list kind of thing," Carter said. "People are willing to dip into their savings on something like that."

Fight promoters and sports franchises have caught on that wealthy fans are willing to pay exorbitant prices for marquee events, said George Hatcher Sr., who worked as an advisor for several years to Joel De La Hoya, father of boxing champ Oscar De La Hoya.

A decade ago, tickets to Oscar De La Hoya's bouts sold for about a fifth of the price of this weekend's showdown, Hatcher said.

"Somebody is paying for those tickets, so how can you be critical?" he asked, referring to the sky-high prices for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.

Less wealthy fans seem willing to pay a good bit just to watch the fight on TV. Pay-per-view carriers are charging about $90, or about $100 for the HD version.

The match is expected to bring record pay-per-view sales at more than 3 million households. That will help boost the overall purse to well above $300 million, which Mayweather and Pacquiao will split 60%-40%.

The previous record was 2.48 million households when Mayweather defeated De La Hoya in 2007.

Indian casinos in Southern California are charging as much as $95 to attend viewing parties where guests will watch the fight on giant television screens while munching on nachos and tacos.

"It ranks right up there with the excitement we get for a Super Bowl," said Phil Cooper, executive director of marketing at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, where $75 gets you a spot at a viewing party in a ballroom that seats about 700. He expects the party to sell out.

Many boxing enthusiasts are taking the astronomical rates in stride, saying they reflect the supercharged excitement for the match.

"If I had the money, I would be in a first-row seat," said Anthony Sands, owner of L.A. Sands Boxing Gym in downtown Los Angeles. He plans to watch pay-per-view instead.

"I really don't think it's sinister," he said. "It's the nature of the beast."

Victor Deveze, a boxing fan and aerospace engineering student at San Diego State University, said he would have to save his money for a year to afford a ticket to the fight.

Instead, Deveze plans to reserve his savings for college tuition and watch the fight on pay-per-view, splitting the cost with friends.

"There's no way a true average-Joe fan can enjoy the fight without spending a small fortune," he said.

Demand for lodging also is high in part because thousands of gamblers and conventioneers will be in Las Vegas this weekend to bet on the Kentucky Derby and to take part in a trade show for the vaping and electronic-cigarette industry at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Unlike Super Bowls or popular conventions, which are set well in advance, fight fans had short notice of the Mayweather-Pacquiao matchup, which sparked a run on rooms before the best hotels sold out. The fight date was announced Feb. 20.

On Vegas.com, searches for hotel rooms jumped about 1,000% on the day the fight was announced. "It's a free-for-all," Doleshal said.

The MGM Grand Garden Arena has a capacity of about 16,800, but the resort put only 500 tickets for sale to the public. A portion of the remaining tickets have been offered to the hotel's top gamblers or included in high-priced hotel packages, said Marco Benvenuti, co-founder of Duetto, a hotel and casino strategy and revenue firm in San Francisco.

For example, the Bellagio, an MGM Resorts International property, has offered two tickets to the fight plus a two-night stay at the hotel for about $18,000. The same room rents for $240 to $450 on a typical Saturday night.

"People out there are willing to pay those prices," Benvenuti said.

Most major Las Vegas hotels have already sold out or are close to filling every room, Doleshal said.

"I think people want to be part of the energy," she said.

In Southern California, Indian casinos are also tapping into the fight-night rush. Most are advertising their plans to show the pay-per-view broadcast.

The Morongo Casino's $75 viewing party includes food, drinks and a souvenir T-shirt. The resort's hotel rooms are sold out for Friday and Saturday.

Inside the resort, a Mexican restaurant called Tacos & Tequila is also hosting a viewing party, charging $95 per person to see the fight on TV screens and partake in nachos, taquitos, enchiladas and carne asada. Drinks aren't included in the price.

Less pricey fight-night festivities are as close as the neighborhood bar. Among the other viewing parties scheduled in Southern California are ones at the Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens ($25 for general seating and $35 for priority seating plus buffet) and the Parq nightclub in San Diego ($50), where the fight will be shown on a 30-by-12.5-foot LED screen.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
101°