Because boxing is rotten even when it’s resplendent, because it’s Roseanne even when it’s Rebecca Romijn, your wallet is getting taken to the cleaners this spring for the biggest fight in recent memory.
By Kyle Magin
When Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather throw down on May 2, you’re probably going to want to watch it—even though it’s five years too late for Pac May and features Nevada’s witness protection program in the undercard. Despite the ass omelet being served cold to boxing fans, it pits two of the greatest fighters of their generation against one another, something the sport hasn’t provided in a long, long while.
For your trouble, you’re going to be asked to pay any number of astronomical prices.
At Home: With HBO and Showtime making the beast with two backs to put this card on, Pay-Per-View on your couch is going to cost $89.95 or $99.95 depending on whether or not you want HD.
You’re not some sort of square or celibate and you want your friends to both like you and be able to see Floyd’s eyes take on a jaundiced look after Manny dumps a few into his kidneys, so you’re laying down a Benjamin. That puts a lot of pressure on you to host a party that is well-attended by friends/coworkers/random people you’ll meet Friday night who are not going to leave your Mason jar empty.
In the old days, you only needed a few buddies to kick in $10 apiece to get your $50 buy down to the price of a reasonable night of entertainment, which is what this is.
Read more boxing: Why PacMay is sports’ biggest ticket in 2015
Now you’re going to need more friends to show up, which probably means couples, which probably means you’re going to have to roll out more than that bag of criss-cut fries and a few Peeber tall boys to be a respectable host. To get $100 down to $30—the price of a reasonable night out at the bar depending on your zip code and drinking habits—you’ll need 7 friends to kick in $10 apiece or 14 to go in at $5. Allow for a few freeloaders and social butterflies who really don’t care what is on the tube and won’t pay for it, and you need to be able to accommodate, seat and feed 10-18 people. Even with a potluck and good friends, you’re laying a lot of risk out there for an event that may or may not be a great athletic showcase.
At a Bar: Look, in a perfect world you have a cool, well-funded bar owner in your neighborhood who puts the fight on because he likes you and your friends and boxing and wants to watch the sport with all of you. In reality, you probably have an over-worked, just-making-ends-meet bar owner who’s ambivalent to boxing because the sport struggles with anyone under 55 and he doesn’t really like you because you leave your tab open once a month and come back to pick up your card as soon as he opens on Saturday without spending another dollar.
And, he doesn’t want to pay the $21-$75 a head up to his capacity that promoters are reportedly charging for the tilt. Even at the low end—and I’ve only heard the $75 figure being charged in Vegas because promoters know you’ll be there and will eat the cost—you’re putting a lot of pressure on a bar to fill up for an event out of a sport that doesn’t exactly have a massive following right now. If a 150-capacity watering hole can only drag in half of that to see the fight, you’re asking for everyone to drink $42 worth. Unless I’m eating, my no-longer-in-my-20s tolerance and affinity for thrifty suds usually keeps my Saturday night drinking under that total. So?
Some bars will charge cover to hedge against a potentially small crowd and score big on a huge one. Others will eat some of the cost because they’re mensches, and in that case you’d better be ordering top-shelf and tipping heavy.
At the MGM Grand in Vegas: Are you the Shah of a kleptocratic Emirate or one of the genetic lottery winners who are good looking enough to end up on a show HBO or Showtime wants to promote on May 2? No? Good luck, asshole!
Listen, a fight where Mayweather and Pacquiao are both expected to make nine figures was never going to be cheap or even reasonable. And, for a sport that categorically will not get out of its own greedy-ass way to cultivate a newer, younger fan-base, it’s not surprising that you’ll be expected to pay your month’s entertainment budget to watch the fight. That said, Showtime and HBO need every eyeball they can get to justify the promotion.
Have they priced themselves out of that goal?