Saturday 24 February 2018

Irish fans spooked by Mayweather-McGregor ticket prices as interest drops in comparison to past fights

Conor McGregor holds an open workout for media and fans during the UFC 202 Open Workouts at the Red Rock Casino Resort on August 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Conor McGregor holds an open workout for media and fans during the UFC 202 Open Workouts at the Red Rock Casino Resort on August 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Jack O'Toole

Irish fans looking to go and watch Conor McGregor take on Floyd Mayweather in a novelty fight in Las Vegas later this month may not be as surrounded by as many of their compatriots as they would have been for previous McGregor fights in Sin City, according to those within the Irish travel industry.

Several Irish travel agents are reporting a decrease in the amount of bookings they have taken for the fight in comparison to previous McGregor fights, with many citing the high ticket prices as a reason for the drop in the number of bookings.

Tickets are currently being sold on online ticket exchange Stubhub from anywhere between €1, 636 for a ticket in the upper corner of the MGM Grand's T-Mobile Arena, to €133, 916 for a ticket in the lower corner, while the cheapest tickets on Ticketmaster have a face value of €1,693, with over 400 tickets still on sale.

Advanced sale tickets for the fight went on sale on Monday evening but only those who had signed up to Ticketmaster’s ‘verified fans’ scheme could purchase tickets in the sale, and only two tickets could be purchased at a time.

As a result, Irish interest in travelling to Las Vegas for the fight has dwindled in comparison to previous McGregor fights; with travel agents Sunway, Tour America, Manning Travel and Dawson Travel all reporting a drop in the number of bookings they have taken for the fight.

A spokesperson from Manning travel said: "We are offering packages from €899 per person based on four sharing in the Stratosphere for four nights flying on the 23rd of August.

"The level of interest is down compared to previous Las Vegas fights. Most fans are heading out for the "craic" and maybe to get a ticket to the weigh-ins which will be a massive event.

"We would advise anyone going to book fast because the flight prices have already gone up from when the fight was announced and they are likely to continue to increase."

Paul Dawson, of Dawson travel in Cork, who estimated that there would be upwards of 5,000 people travelling directly from Ireland for the Aldo fight, said that the interest for this fight has halved in comparison to previous McGregor packages offered by the company.

"We do ad-hocs and put out a lot of packages ahead of the fights but we don't hold anything, the sooner people book, the better deal they're going to get," said Dawson.

"But the interest has not been as high as previous fights. There's been a noticeable drop, probably halved from the [Jose] Aldo fight. People are concerned whether or not they're going to be able to get tickets.

"You'd usually have people book and they already have tickets, or they're going to try and get them when they're over there, but unless they can get a ticket, they're not really going to book anything."

The tickets are still on sale, there's an abundance of them available to buy, but it seems that the high ticket prices mixed with the fact that the fight has very little credibility among sports fans, has seen interest wane in some circles in comparison to previous McGregor fights.

However, Marie Porter, Senior Marketing & PR Executive for Sunway, said that the fight has not drawn as much interest from Irish fans as the 2015 McGregor-Aldo fight, but that it is still faring better than all of the other McGregor fights the company has offered packages for in the past.

"The conversion rate of bookings v inquiries was approximately 60%," said Porter.

"The main interest was for his title fight against Aldo and now the Mayweather fight is proving very popular, the fights in-between didn’t generate as many bookings for various reasons, namely the Euros, cost of flights, lack of interest in a particular fight, time of year etc..

"The first fight v Mendes fell in the middle of high season so prices were quite expensive and perhaps the profile of the fight didn’t resonate with the public. For the Aldo fight the offer we promoted was excellent value and we generated 106 bookings from this. The other fights post Aldo were quite close to each other, three fights in one calendar year (the same year as the Euros), post-Christmas and a rematch didn’t quite match the previous appeal."

Floyd Mayweahter's promoter Leonard Ellerbe isn't terribly concerned by the fight's low ticket sales, or the fact that there are still plenty of hotel rooms available online, including several hotels operated by MGM Grand, which owns the T-Mobile Arena.

Polly Bond, commercial manager for Tour America, said that it would be quite unusual for there to be as many hotel rooms available this close to a big Vegas fight, but that it's an issue that doesn't seem to concern Ellerbe, who is still confident that the fight will be the biggest ever, a claim that could be unjustified given the slow ticket sales and relatively low occupancy rates among hotels for that weekend.

"We're very excited and very happy with ticket sales so far," Ellerbe told The Associated Press. "We're well on our way to smashing our own record which transcended the sport."

The record Ellerbe is referring to was a €60,960,445 gate set by Mayweather in his 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao. That live gate was more than three times bigger than any previous recorded boxing gate.

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