LAS VEGAS – The fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor may not have sold out yet, but that won’t stop Las Vegas from putting on its party hat.
Sin City’s nightclubs have booked a long list of celebrities — including one of the fighters — and high-rolling gamblers and VIPs have snagged some of the most luxurious accommodations in town. Boxing-themed cocktails have even been concocted for the occasion.
The social media-fueled Saturday night fight at the T-Mobile Arena will be a weekend-long, city-wide affair, though in some respects it may not tip the scales as much as a previous Mayweather fight.
“It’s going to be a crazy weekend,” said Ryan Thompson, senior vice president and regional chief marketing officer for Caesars Entertainment, whose Planet Hollywood, The Cromwell and Caesars Palace casino-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip have a few rooms available. “The energy over that weekend is going to be on par with a New Year’s Eve in the city.”
Caesars and MGM Resorts International, which owns the fight’s venue, expect their properties to sell out as the weekend approaches. But unlike the bullish market created by Mayweather’s fight with Manny Pacquiao in May 2015 in Las Vegas, hotel rooms are still available.
The MGM Grand has cut its prices for the weekend three times, with a two-night stay now at $329 a night. Rooms at several other hotels on the Strip can still be found for $200 or less a night.
Many VIPs and high-rolling gamblers need not worry about prices, they will be “comped” with free hotel rooms and tickets, as it is customary. Others not so lucky — but certainly with deep pockets — have booked the most lavish accommodations on the Strip.
The villas at Caesars Palace (starting at $25,000 a night) and Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace ($35,000 a night and previously used by the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Johnny Depp) have been claimed for the weekend.
“We get a ton of requests for tickets. We have plenty of our high-end players and guests who come in specifically for the event,” Thompson said. “We put them up for the weekend and they will be attending the fight. We like to take care of our best guests.”
McCarran International Airport spokeswoman Christine Crews said the number of private aircraft that flew in for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight overwhelmed available apron parking and forced a taxiway to be closed and used as a jet parking lot. Crews said there is no plan to do that again this weekend but officials are requiring pilots to make parking reservations and encouraging the use of two nearby general aviation airports, in suburban Henderson and North Las Vegas.
UFC fighter McGregor will enter a boxing ring for the first time as a professional when he takes on the undefeated Mayweather, who is coming out of retirement for a fight that will make him tens of millions of dollars.
Just four days to fight night, there are plenty of tickets still available in the T-Mobile Arena, which seats 18,000 for boxing, and prices on the secondary market are starting to come down.
Ticketmaster has hundreds of non-VIP tickets ranging from roughly $1,400 to $17,000. Still available are VIP tickets that include hotel accommodations, roundtrip airport transportation, an official souvenir, food and drinks.
Those who can’t afford what’s supposed to be the year’s hottest ticket can watch the fight inside six of the seven theaters that regularly host Cirque du Soleil shows, which are going dark for the night.
Restaurants, bars and strip clubs around town will also show the fight. Closed-circuit seats are available at various MGM properties, including hundreds for $150 each at the Park Theater just a few steps from the T-Mobile arena itself. By comparison, Mayweather-Pacquiao closed-circuit tickets sold out the day they went on sale.
Pay-per-view sales at $100 each are expected to be in the neighborhood of 5 million buys, topping the Mayweather-Pacquiao record of 4.6 million.
The city’s sports books say this will be the most heavily bet fight ever. So far most of the tickets are on McGregor, who is about a 5-1 underdog, with the William Hill chain saying a McGregor win would cost them more than $1 million.
R&B star Chris Brown and his crew of dancers will perform at Drai’s Nightclub on Saturday. Other venues will see performances by Puff Daddy, Jamie Foxx, Travis Scott, Chase B and Kaskade. The night before the fight, 50 Cent, Trey Songz and Jeezy will have a combined performance.
Win or lose, McGregor will have to party after the fight. The Irish MMA champion is scheduled to be a host at Encore Beach Club that night as part of a two-year agreement to entertain partygoers at the Encore casino-resort.
The tallest observation wheel in the world, the High Roller at The Linq casino-resort promenade, will get in on the action by turning its lighting red, white and blue if Mayweather wins or green, orange and white if McGregor pulls off the upset.
For fans who want to toast the fighters with something other than a Guinness, mixologists have created special cocktail menus. At the bars and lounges of The Cosmopolitan, The Pretty Boy is a mix of Ciroc pineapple, lemon and tropical Red Bull, while the Bob and Weave gets you Patron Silver, lime, lemongrass, lychee and cucumber soda.
REGINA GARCIA CANO