We have tickets, right?!
As this is being typed out just short of 6 p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday evening, tickets for the May 2 bout between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. still have not officially gone on sale. Things looked rather bleak at the beginning of the week but by late Tuesday afternoon, Top Rank Promotions had finally received a ticket manifest from Mayweather Promotions. It seemed like things were finally moving in the right direction between the two sides, who were haggling over the allotment of tickets essentially already agreed to months ago.
(What, you thought this promotion would go off without some sort of hitch?)
So thinking positively and assuming they do go on sale soon (and the scuttlebutt is that fewer than a thousand will be for public consumption), what has this done to the ticket market? How will fans who have the economic means to buy tickets for this event be affected in the secondary market? Because lets be honest; odds are they will have to go this route and this will be a very tough ticket to procure.
I posed this question to Jesse Lawrence, the founder and CEO of TiqIQ.com, a site that is a personal favorite of mine, which allows you to get a gauge on how tickets are really selling and their true value in the marketplace before purchasing them. It’s been an invaluable tool for me and many of my friends who go to fights at various venues. Promoters routinely lie about ticket sales to their fights but TiqIQ.com will often give you the hard truth about how an event is really doing.
“Well, the market hasn’t really moved a lot,” said Lawrence on Wednesday afternoon, before tickets had officially been released. “The current average price is still about 11,000 bucks. The back prices is still 70,000 bucks; the get-in prices is 4,200 bucks. So I think what we’re looking at is the shift from speculative inventory to seated inventory where you know there’s an actual ticket and we are seeing speculative listings go down a little bit and some of the real inventory go up and people clearly should get a line on confirmation that they have tickets and they think they know where seats are going to be.”
When asked if he had ever seen a scenario like this, Lawrence stated, “The only one that compares is this year’s Super Bowl; from a price standpoint, it’s the only thing that compares. They were both the only two events that have ever reached $10,000 average that we have tracked in the history of TiqIQ. So that’s one way they’re in common and, secondly, I think there was a lot of backroom deals that either had around the setting of the event or were in place for years – based on league relationships that funneled inventory through channels that made it prohibitively expensive for any consumer to buy.
“And the other common is that there was really no on-sale for either of these events because there’s nominal on-sale for the Super Bowl. They’re saying there’s going to be an on-sale for this but, as of yet, there’s no evidence of it actually happening.”
The backdoor dealings in this particular case involve those making sure that the tickets go immediately to the secondary market, putting the public in a position in which they have to pay for artificially high prices off-the-bat. It’s something I’ve written about at length before during my time at Maxboxing.
But there is a flipside: If a promotion flounders, prices can plummet as the fight nears and you can oftentimes get tickets for less than face-value.
So with how this fight has been handled, is this now a buyer’s or seller’s market?
“It’s hard to call this in any way, shape or form a buyer’s market,” said Lawrence, citing the steep price tag across the board for this fight. “Does it bring prices down a little bit? Perhaps. That’s if the uncertainty continues, people cancel plans and decide they’re not going to book that airplane or hotel. So I think the longer the uncertainty continues, the more risk is there. As soon as they lock it down, there’s evidence of an on-sale, my sense is the demand sort of comes back.”
But sources are saying that a pretty good number of the “whales” who were expected to migrate to Las Vegas have already backed out of making this trip, not only with the MGM Grand but other properties on the strip. Asked how this would effect the ticket market, Lawrence stated, “I think it brings down the very high-end [ticket], I don’t think it has as much of an impact on the sort-of get-into average [ticket].”
Lawrence believes the mid-level price tickets – and yeah, that’s a relative term here – “will stay pretty firm.”
It’s interesting that, as of Wednesday, on the TiqIQ page for Mayweather-Pacquiao, only the upper-level tickets are being offered. The bottom line is ticket brokers across the board have been very hesitant in putting in any orders for this fight.
It’s hard to have a secondary market until you have a primary market.
OK, let’s be honest; this fight is going forward one way or the other and the snafu with the fight tickets is really something that affects the promoters of this fight as they race to put seats on the secondary market and cash in on the demand (What did Gordon Gekko once say about greed?). When less than five percent of the tickets are actually going to the public, this isn’t about the fans.
But the issue that does impact them is the closed-circuit availability in Las Vegas, for those coming in and wanting to enjoy the fight week atmosphere, then watch the bout with a couple thousand of their closest friends on a big screen in a hotel ballroom.
According to Arum, there will be 37,000 closed-circuit tickets in Las Vegas. OK, is that enough? I posed this question to Lawrence.
“It’s an interesting number; I’ve not heard that number and, again, I don’t know the closed-circuit numbers as well as a lot of others but, if you think about it in the context of the event, it’s double what the MGM Grand holds. So you’re actually saying, ‘We’re going to create three places in total where you can see the fight in Vegas,’ and obviously while a lot of people want to be able to say, ‘We’re at the MGM,’ there’s also something to saying, ‘We’re in Vegas for the fight.’
“So whether that satisfies demand…it’ll be interesting to see if there’s a secondary market for those.”
Yes, there are actually occasions in which closed-circuit tickets are scalped.
“Based on the way this thing’s going, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see people playing with inventory availability in that world as well,” said Lawrence.
But wouldn’t you know it? A press release courtesy of Swanson Communications was sent out late on Wednesday evening with the following information:
LIVE EVENT AND CLOSED CIRCUIT TICKETS FOR FLOYD MAYWEATHER VS. MANNY PACQUIAO
ON SALE THURSDAY, APRIL 23
Closed Circuit Locations Available at all MGM Resorts International Properties Along The Strip
LAS VEGAS (April 22, 2015) – Tickets for the highly anticipated world championship showdown between Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao taking place Saturday, May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena will be available tomorrow for both in-arena and closed circuit viewing.
Tickets for the live event priced at $7,500, $5,000, $3,500, $2,500 and $1,500, not including applicable service charges, go on sale Thursday, April 23 at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT. Tickets are limited to four (4) per household. To charge by phone or with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also will be available for purchase at www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.
The closed circuit telecast will be available at all MGM Resorts International properties in Las Vegas. General admission tickets for closed circuit viewing will be $150, not including handling fees, and will go on sale Thursday, April 23 at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. Tickets will be available for purchase at the individual property’s box office outlets, by phone with a major credit card at (866) 799-7711 or through Ticketmaster by calling (800) 745-3000. Closed circuit tickets are limited to eight (8) per household.
Many have drawn the analogy with this event and that of the Super Bowl with what fans go through in trying – largely unsuccessfully – to get into the actual event. But it was pointed out to me by Matt Swider, a veteran of “The Soapbox,” that there is a huge flaw in that comparison: The difference is that those who fail to get tickets to the actual game inside the stadium know there are restaurants, sports bars and their hotel rooms where they can watch the game on television.
They basically have guaranteed options – which are far less costly.
Right now, those who are flying in from all over without $500,000 of credit with the MGM Grand don’t know if they will even have the opportunity to watch this fight next week – or at what price, given the fact that there’s a very good chance they won’t be able to purchase closed-circuit access at the face value of $150. I’ve been told by more than a few folks on Twitter that they have postponed their trips to Las Vegas next week because of this very possibility.
Hey, listen, these are grown folks. They know what they are getting into when they plan any trip or vacation. But in this case, after spending thousands of dollars on travel and lodging, they aren’t even sure if they can purchase the closed-circuit with less than two weeks to go.
Yeah, I get it. This is all about supply-and-demand, yada, yada. Spare me, you armchair Darren Rovells. We know that the demand is extremely high but is it too much to at least have a modicum of customer service for those who are willing to back this event (which they were largely shut out of from the very beginning?)
But hey, this is for the fans, right? Always…for the fans.
Speaking of tickets, tickets to the May 29 card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. featuring Amir Khan-Chris Algieri and Paulie Malignaggi-Danny O’Connor are being given away by 1iota Productions…
Geez, they’re not even pretending to try and sell tickets to this one.
Steve can be reached at email@example.com and he tweets (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. He also shares photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.