Almost as highly talked about as the 10 round TKO defeat of Conor McGregor by Floyd Mayweather this weekend was the strange fact that boxing’s apparent fight of the century brought a far less than capacity crowd to the arena.
Promoters had fair enough reason to believe they could sell out a fight between an all-time great in Mayweather and MMA star McGregor. Mayweather was coming out of retirement with a shot at rounding out his career record at 50-0. McGregor, though a first-time boxer, brought a wealth of fans from the other parts of combat sports. Press conferences between the two were impassioned, to say the least. The fight certainly didn’t lack publicity or even popularity from fans in the weeks leading up to the event, and pay-per-view sales were so strong that the fight was delayed due to cable outages.
Despite all these factors, the numbers for physical attendance in the arena did not pull through. The T-Mobile Arena- which can seat up to 20,500 for boxing events- only held 14,623 fans by the start of the fight, according to a writer at ESPN. This means over 5,000 seats remained unfilled, and some fans reported that entire sections near the top of the arena were empty.
What was the factor? By most accounts, the pricing on the event was woefully off the mark. The minimum seat price was $500 (plus fees), and those were gone more or less immediately, even for those in the “verified fan” presale that Ticketmaster operated. The next price point was $2,500 (and fees), which included almost all of the top reaches of the stadium. Tickets were available at every price save the lowest right up until the start of the fight in the primary marketplace, while the secondary market took a steep dive as the final week wound down before the fight.
— Marcus Vanderberg (@marcowill) August 27, 2017
It was obvious throughout the evening at T-Mobile Arena. Fans took their time out on the strip and filed in during the very last minutes leading up to the fight. Some speculated that this was due to many “true” boxing fans being priced out of the event. Instead, promoters squeezed every dollar to maximize the gate and were left with a late crowd, more present for the social media -fueled spectacle of it all than the sport.
The number of celebrities in attendance were among those who took to social media to boast their ringside seats: A-list’s newest power couple Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, NBA’s LeBron James, Reggie Miller, and Paul Pierce, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, 50 Cent, Chance the Rapper, Bruce Willis, William H. Macy, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, to name a few.
When asked if he was disappointed about attendance in a post-fight press conference, Mayweather Promotions’ CEO Leonard Ellerbe replied, “I wouldn’t say that”. He went on to defend that, “You’re not always gonna get it right. We get it right more often than not, though.”
Ellerbe also made it clear that despite not selling out the arena, he expected ticket sales to have brought in enough revenue to break the $72 million record made by the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight in 2015. Mayweather himself later added that he predicts revenue from Saturday’s fight to surpass $80 million.
In the aftermath of the fight, Golden Boy Promotions, which is staging the upcoming Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin fight on September 16, also at T-Mobile Arena, took to Twitter to boast that their fight has been sold out for weeks. Ticket prices for this event were notably lower, in the $300-$5,000 (+ fees) range on the primary market.
— GoldenBoyPromotions (@GoldenBoyBoxing) August 27, 2017
Tickets are still available on the secondary market for boxing’s next big event, and while we can’t speak for how the fight itself will compare, it certainly will provide a more generous crowd and bustling atmosphere. For the cheapest tickets with no added fees to the Canelo v. GGG fight on 9/16, click here.