Holyfield fight won't be as big a cash cow for S.A. as Final Four
But Friday's fight at the Alamodome between Holyfield and Fres Oquendo is likely to make more money on pay-per-view TV than it will at the box office or for the city of San Antonio.
Promoters are not disclosing how many tickets have been sold.
The dome is set up for 28,000 seats for the fight, with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $300. Seats close to the ring are selling for more than $500 from ticket brokers.
Akbar Muhammad, event coordinator with promoter M&M Sports, said 15,000 people are expected. But it is unclear what the economic effect of the sporting event will be for the city.
An event such as the NCAA men's basketball Final Four fills more than 47,000 seats in the Alamodome and brings more people to the city for related events for days at a time. The direct economic impact is estimated at more than $40 million for spending on hotels, food, drink and shopping.
Muhammad said the boxing match, part of Holyfield's attempt at age 44 to win a fifth heavyweight title, can't compare with that, but will still generate excitement and exposure for San Antonio.
"Heck, for the Final Four they empty the college campuses," Muhammad said. "We're not going to get that."
He does expect spending from visiting sportswriters, crews involved with the Fox Sports Network pay-per-view presentation of the fight, and fight fans from Hollywood to South Texas.
But most big fights take place in casino arenas, and promoters get money up front to bring the event to town. Casinos pay big bucks for the national attention and to get gamblers in the doors.
When it comes to promoting a fight in a city without gambling, all bets are off on how the promoters get paid. They have to make their money at the door.
Holyfield drew about 12,000 people to his last Texas bout, in Dallas.
Holyfield, whose company Real Deal Events is co-promoter with M&M, said casino-related fights bring some guarantees, but the energy is much different fighting in the communities where the fans live. It is all about the intensity, he said.
"You have people who really come to support the fighter," Holyfield told the San Antonio Express-News. "When it's an event like in the Alamodome, it's more than boxing."
Murad Muhammad, promoter for the fight, predicted two months ago it would bring in $2 million in ticket sales. But a popular Oscar De La Hoya drew only $1.2 million at the gate when he fought David Kamau in San Antonio in 1997. The 2003 Manny Pacquiao-Marco Antonio Barrera match brought in $750,000.
Some ticket brokers have not bought tickets for resale.
"When you get six rows back from ringside for $500, that's not a hot ticket," said Randy Cohen, CEO of Austin-based TicketCity. "This is a loser of an event."
At a Holyfield workout at Sunset Station on Tuesday, Murad Muhammad was not making any predictions.
"We think ticket sales are doing well (considering) people didn't know we were coming here," he said.
The real money will probably come from people in 130 countries willing to shell out $44.95 to watch Fox Sports Network's first pay-per-view boxing event, either on television or on the Internet. The promoters get a percentage of each pay-per-view sale.
"You can't hide his age, but he's still a boxing legend, and people still want to see him in the ring," said Fox Sports spokesman Justin Simon.
He said Holyfield is better than he was for his Dallas fight and that the other matchups Friday of mostly San Antonio boxers are considered strong enough to garner attention in the pay-per-view world.
Also, Oquendo, Holyfield's opponent, is considered a serious contender for a title.
Amador Martinez will be at the dome Friday night. Still wearing his hard hat on a break from a nearby hotel construction site, he and several co-workers snapped photos of Holyfield's workout at Sunset Station.
"It is worth it," Martinez said. "I probably won't buy the $300 seats, but it's exciting to have a big name in San Antonio."
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