Manny Pacquiao, millionaires scramble for tickets as market reaches absurd heights

LAS VEGAS – For the low, low price of $797 you can purchase via a pretty good seat – Section 13, Row W in the MGM Grand Garden Arena – to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

Not to see them fight, mind you, since they won't even be in the ring or wearing gloves. About $800 will merely get you a chance to watch each man climb up on a scale at Friday afternoon's weigh-in before engaging in a brief stare down as cameras flash. If it's really exciting, someone will need to take their shirt off to make weight.

Will Saturday's fight be worth the price of admission? (AP)
Will Saturday's fight be worth the price of admission? (AP)

Oh, you want to see the actual fight on May 2? Well, on Thursday afternoon you could buy what is essentially a front-row seat on StubHub for $351,005.25. If that's too much, four front-row seats were available on for $294,552 per ticket.

"I've never seen nothing like it," said Floyd Mayweather Sr., the 62-year-old former fighter and trainer.

No one has seen anything like this. More than $350,000 for one ticket? You could also just buy a four-bedroom, three-bath, 2,700 square-foot house in Vegas.

Right now the $351,005.25 is merely an offer and is unlikely to sell at that amount. Then again, there's no harm in trying.

"Everyone can dream," said Stubhub's Glenn Lerhman.

Stubhub did sell tickets for $40,955, the most expensive single seat in the history of the company. With a dozen even higher-priced options on the site Thursday, it's a record that may soon fall. RazorGator expects the same.

"If that ticket sold for $294,552, it would be the highest-priced ticket ever sold on our site," RazorGator's Christi Goza said. The website merely serves as a middleman for sellers and purchases and takes a cut of the action.

Even taking out the extreme, the prices are absurd. Stubhub reported its average price for tickets sold is $6,268, which is higher than February's Super Bowl, the company's highest-grossing event ever.

The average listing on RazorGator was $14,802, more than double the $6,271 average asking price for tickets to the Super Bowl. To just get in the door for this fight – basically the last row – was a little more than $3,000 as of Thursday afternoon.

The total gate per face value, not secondary market, for the megafight is estimated to be about $72 million, which will obliterate the all-time record for a boxing match of just above $20 million. That came from the 2013 Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez bout also held at the 16,000-seat Grand Garden Arena.

For Mayweather-Pacquiao, the best seats topped out at $10,000 face value. Clearly that was too low.

The demand for seats has been overwhelming and no one is immune. Co-promoter Bob Arum said he paid $10,000 for his seat and told the Associated Press that Pacquiao had to shell out between $3 million and $4 million for 900 tickets for family and friends.

Literally everyone was scrambling for seats. Earlier this week, the daughter of Kirk Kerkorian, the billionaire Vegas mogul and former majority owner of MGM Mirage – you could say he literally built the host hotel – was texting executives at Top Rank Boxing looking to buy a seat.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao pose for photographers during a press conference Wednesday. (AP)
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao pose for photographers during a press conference Wednesday. (AP)

At one point the MGM Grand said it would only offer its allotment to regular customers who carry at least a $250,000 line of credit with the casino. Those, the company said, went quickly.

Only 1,000 tickets went to the public (selling out in less than 60 seconds), which is why the secondary market is basically in unchartered territory.

"This is such a unique event due to the low inventory, small arena capacity and [the tickets going] on sale just nine days before the fight," said Lehrman of Stubhub. Adding to the uncertainty is that truly wealthy clients spending hundreds of thousands of dollars may be more inclined to make the transaction offline rather than plugging their AMEX Black into the Internet.

"It's also almost impossible to know how much is being sold in back alleys, out casino doors, etc.," Lehrman said.

Since very few people have the money, let alone the willingness, to spend so much on a ticket, the market has stretched into anything Mayweather-Pacquiao related. That includes the weigh-in, which is generally little more than a last-minute media event.

In an effort at crowd control, the MGM sold tickets to the weigh-in for $10 – usually it's free and not anywhere close to full. Now, for the chance to see almost nothing happen, tickets are being sold online for hundreds of dollars.

It's gotten so big that the fighters and trainers have been repeatedly questioned here this week about whether they feel any added pressure to not just try to win the fight, but compete in an exciting fashion.

So who is buying these things?

"The clientele for this event are your actors, musicians and your high-roller businessmen," Lehrman said.

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