By Charles Jay
When asked about the popularity of one of his competitor’s promotions in Las Vegas, the venerable Bob Arum was once heard to say, with the requisite amount of mock admiration, “Yeah, it’s the hottest comp ticket in town.”
Such a thing can probably be said about the upcoming Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight as well. But no one is mocking this too much; at least no one who worships the almighty dollar. According to Arum, folks need not aspire to ringside seating unless they have a $250,000 credit line with the MGM Grand and are ready to put that very enthusiastically into action.
It has been said that only a small number of tickets are even going to be made available to the general public. If there is a best bet for anyone who wants to see and be seen, it’s what is known as the “secondary market,” as ticket brokers, who have connections you’d just love to know about, and unencumbered by limits on markup, get whatever they can, while simultaneously trying not to froth at the mouth.
Yes, it’s good old-fashioned American capitalism, and in this case, it becomes an expensive proposition for the end consumer. You say you want to be within shouting distance (without the necessity of a megaphone) of Jack, Sly or Beyonce? Well, you had better legitimately be on a first-name basis with those icons (as in, they know YOUR first name too), play liberally with the aforementioned credit line, or be ready to pony up anywhere between $45,000-$55,000; that is, if you are in “plus one” mode.
Floor seats reportedly are starting at something north of $22,000, and there are some being sold by ticket brokers for as much as $25,000. As supply shrinks, that price will go nowhere but up. So as the late Billy Mays used to say, “Act now!” if you want to rub elbows with the rich and famous.
Oh, but wait just a doggone minute. Arum, who is a co-promoter by virtue of his contractual relationship with Pacquiao, has stated that no one is going to be parking his or her buttocks in the first few rows on the arm, simply as a result of their celebrity. They’ll have to pay like everybody else, or so he says. We’re not quite sure we’ve heard that one before.
It almost sounds un-American that Jack Nicholson wouldn’t be a “guest” of the casino. Don’t these people realize that the rollers show up just to get glimpse? Didn’t anybody see The Shining or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? Don’t they understand that this is the guy who played the Joker?
Perhaps they do, and perhaps they don’t care.
We talked to one gentleman in the boxing industry who has no piece of the action and no fighter scheduled on this show, and he said that he could have a ticket if he wanted one. And this guy didn’t even have so much as a bit part in Chinatown. So what gives?
That no celebrities, or very few, would be around to decorate the atmosphere doesn’t add up. We’ll believe it when we see it, or don’t see it, as it were.
As a mere mortal, if you want to go on the “cheap,” about $4500 might be enough to assure you a ticket on the secondary market. But be forewarned that such status will get you only secondary consideration in the casino during fight week. And as for the arena itself, well, have you got a pair of binoculars handy?
Maybe it’s already gone way too far. Even someone as essential to the proceedings as Pacquiao himself has expressed that he can’t even get tickets for all his friends. If you forgive us, we’ll reserve sympathy on that one. But if you’re looking for someplace to make a donation to the needy, consider the case of UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, who says she really needs the “win money” from her bout with Cat Zingano this weekend in order to afford a ticket for the Mayweather-Pacquiao spectacle.
How crazy is it? Let the co-promoter, who has done and seen it all, answer that.
“I would say that Joe Frazier is turning over in his grave,” according to Arum. “And Muhammad Ali is looking on in disbelief.” But really Bob, would you have made Frank Sinatra pay for the right to run around with that camera during the first Ali-Frazier fight? Sure you would, if you were okay with wearing designer-brand cement shoes the next morning.
Jack or Sly will hopefully let him off easier than that.