The holiday season and problems with YSU’s tactics have slowed ticket sales, Arum said.
By JON MOFFETT
Vindicator Staff Writer
YOUNGSTOWN — Before a single punch could be thrown in tonight’s Kelly Pavlik title fight, area bars have been dealt a blow.
Top Rank Boxing Chairman Bob Arum said Friday that since the event has not sold out, local bars will be prevented from showing the event on pay-per-view.
“We cut it off,” Arum said following the prefight weigh-in. “You can’t sell [the fight] in the bar if it is not sold out.”
Arum said Top Rank sent an e-mail at 7:59 a.m. Friday to let bars and establishments know of the decision.
The fight will still be available via home PPV.
Art Gallegos, sales manager for G&G Closed Circuit Events LLC. in California, said that a blackout clause is written into Top Rank’s contract.
Some area bars had paid anywhere from $800 to $1,000 for the fight, Gallegos said. The money will be refunded.
Jeremiah Bullfrogs Sports Bar and Grille in Boardman had paid the top figure for the fight. Owner Ross Scianna heard about the blackout only after a call from The Vindicator seeking comment.
“That is absolutely, literally bull ...” Scianna said. The sentence did not end with “frog.”
The bar, like many others in the area, had planned an entire event around the boxing PPV. Along with showing the fight, Scianna said drink specials and other things were planned.
A large crowd was also expected, he said.
“We’ll still be busy, but ... this is like the Super Bowl,” Scianna said. “Are you going to be as busy if you don’t show the Super Bowl? Absolutely not. It’s just mind-boggling to hear this at the last minute.”
More important than principle is capital, Scianna said. He estimated about $4,000 was spent on advertising for the event.
“I don’t think it’s fair at all,” he said. “What do you do about the money you spent on advertising? It’s not right.”
Even Pavlik’s own establishment is knocked out of the fight.
Eric Ryan, a partner in Kelly Pavlik’s 13th Round in Struthers, called the news “disappointing.”
“We had big plans on having the fight and showing it,” Ryan said. “Had we known it would be blacked out, we would’ve made different plans. We’re still holding on to them possibly reconsidering. It would’ve been nice if it was conveyed that this was a possibility.”
Ryan added a “substantial amount of money” will be lost due to advertising and promotion.
Managers at Quaker Steak & Lube in Austintown and Buffalo Wild Wings downtown had no comment on the situation. Both establishments planned to show the fight and offer specials.
Reports said only about 1,500-1,800 tickets have been sold for the event at Youngstown State University’s Beeghly Center — with a capacity for 7,300 fans.
Arum dismissed those reports.
“It’s very inaccurate,” Arum said of the figure. “We’ve sold about 3,000 tickets ... We’ll have a nice crowd. It won’t be a sellout. But we’ll have a very, very nice crowd on Saturday.”
Arum said many factors played into the slow tickets sales, including the venue itself.
“We just found out they wouldn’t take cash [at Beeghly Center]. I never heard of that,” Arum said. “We just got them [Friday] to take cash.”
These were just the latest complications fans have faced since the fight was announced November. When tickets went on sale Nov. 24, YSU’s ticket office was closed in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. By contrast, for Pavlik’s February title defense, many lower-priced tickets were unavailable just minutes after going online.
Another problem cited by Arum was the way the tickets were sold.
Instead of using sales giant Ticketmaster.com, YSU opted for its preferred – albeit less familiar – choice Tickets.com.
Arum said the original plan was to have the Covelli Centre host the fight, as it did in February. But a scheduling conflict forced Top Rank to find a venue elsewhere.
And a smaller venue was better than nothing, Arum said.
“Listen, the alternative – to have Kelly wait until next year – made no sense to us,” he said. “As long as he was physically able to fight on Dec. 19, which was obviously not a good date being less than a week before Christmas, we were going to do it. Again, there was no alternative.”
Remaining tickets, priced at $208, $158, $108 and $58, including $8 processing fee, can be purchased online at www.Tickets.com or at the Youngstown State University Athletic Ticket Office. For ticket information, call (330) 941-1978.
Reporter Joe Scalzo contributed to this story.