By Ivan G. Goldman
The ticket situation for the May 2 super-fight has left the territory of the mysterious and crossed into a zone of freakishness and alarm. Only two and a half weeks before the opening bell for the epochal Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao battle, there are still no tickets.
Old hands have never seen anything like it. Everyone is waiting for movement from Mayweather Promotions, the company in charge.
Meanwhile, the besieged MGM Grand has had to put out a disclaimer on the Internet explaining that there are as yet “no tickets available for purchase” and that buyers “should use extra caution when purchasing alleged tickets from unofficial sources, for fraudulent or unofficial tickets will not be accepted.”
The unusual mystifying disclaimer ends with the words, “Check back to this site for further information.” Note that it provides no expected date for the ticket release, which is already weeks behind normal scheduling.
“I don’t know what the holdup is,” Fred Sternburg told me. He handles publicity for Bob Arum’s Top Rank, which, as Pacquiao’s promoter, plays second fiddle on this event. “On the record, I’ve got to refer you to Mayweather Promotions. It’s the same thing with the media credentials.”
Mayweather’s company has never handled a big fight before, but in the grueling negotiations leading up to the super-fight, he insisted that it be lead promoter. The company directs all questions to someone named Nicole Craig, but her cell phone is a black hole. The mailbox is full.
A while ago a reporter managed to corral CEO Leonard Ellerbe and ask about the delay. He replied in generalities, saying that Arum raises the issue out of malice. Everything is fine, Ellerbe said. But it isn’t.
An event that could bring in half a billion dollars is in a state of near-anarchy. Clearly promises are being made in terms of who gets in and where they sit. But that’s all they are.
Media from around the world don’t know whether they can get cameras or reporters into the arena or rooms for their personnel. Should they purchase airline tickets? You tell me.
Back on March 11 in Los Angeles, at the one and only pre-fight press conference, Ellerbe announced that ticket prices would range from $1,500 to $7,500. But the scramble for seats had started earlier and still rages.
Go to a site called ticketnetwork.com, which is a resale bazaar, and there you can find scads of tickets. At least the sellers say they’re tickets. Prices ranged from $67,682 down to $4,689. The site provided a detailed diagram of the MGM Grand arena, which holds a scant 16,800, and it shows you precisely where the buyers will be seated.
Meanwhile, the MGM Grand tells us buyer beware.
Arum began sounding the alarm on this weeks ago. The casino, he noted, would of course provide seats to its best customers. They’d have to have at least a $250,000 line of gambling credit, he said.
A high-rolling insider who’s been promised tickets by the MGM Grand said he’d been informed that they wouldn’t be available until 4 pm on the afternoon of the fight.
Promoters, fighters, sponsors and other insiders eventually will be allocated tickets, and some of them will end up on the secondary market. The MGM will no doubt sell very few tickets on its site.
Apparently the allocations have already been set. If that’s so then Mayweather has nothing to gain by delaying the process. But he’s been known to use delay as a negotiating tactic. And his manager Al Haymon refuses to talk to public or press, which in itself creates an atmosphere of secrecy and befuddlement.
The absence of tickets has fueled rumors that the fight is on the verge of being postponed. I doubt it.
Arum was confident that he at least would be seated in a great spot but said, perhaps tongue in cheek, that if the offer gets juicy enough he might sell his seat and watch from elsewhere.
Why is this event being held in such a relatively small venue? Mayweather insisted on it. Las Vegas is his home, remember.
Also, fighters are almost universally superstitious. Note that Floyd has never lost at the MGM Grand.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s latest novel is The Debtor Class (Permanent Press, April, 2015), a ‘gripping triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. More information here.