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Mayweather-Pacquiao breaking business records

The rooms at the Riviera in old downtown Las Vegas haven't been updated in years. Its dizzying carpet screams of the 1980s, and the pictures on the walls of Elvis, Joan Rivers and George Burns do little to excite many patrons these days.

On an average night this year, you could have stayed in one of its rooms for less than $80 -- and that includes tax and free parking.

On May 4, the Riviera will go out of business. A superstar of the past that just couldn't keep up with Steve Wynn's big money and the new strip that developed, the hotel was sold for $191 million in February.

But the Riviera will go out in a way most hotels don't -- charging prices next weekend that it could only get on New Year's Eve. And every room is sold out.

People in town to see the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena are paying $379 on Friday and Saturday nights, filling the Riviera's rooms for the last time.

Anecdotes about how big Mayweather-Pacquiao is for the Las Vegas economy are filled with excess. But it's places like the Riviera and Hostel Cat, a place where people pay by the bed (it's $60 this weekend instead of the usual $16), that best describe how desperate people are to be in Vegas for the historic event.

Officials with the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority wouldn't confirm it, but it might end up being the single biggest economic weekend in Las Vegas history.

The town's most highly coveted hotels on the strip routinely sell out, but not at the insane markup this market has seen.

"When hotels are filled, there are often conventions, and blocks of rooms are being negotiated at discount rates," said Vanessa Doleshal, business development manager for Vegas.com, an online booking website that specializes in the city.

Doleshal said the site booked 568 hotel rooms for Friday, May 1, on Feb. 20 and 21, when it was clear the fight was going to happen. The two days before that? A paltry 52 rooms.

With five days to go before the fight, the last rooms were being sold at the MGM Grand for $1,600 per night. That's the last of more than 6,000 rooms, which makes the MGM Grand the second largest hotel by room volume in the world.

The superlatives aren't hard to find:


The golden ticket

What it cost to get into the action at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 2.

• A $10,000 ringside ticket -- and that's just face value. A close associate of one of the fighters was trying to sell a couple of them for $350,000 each this past week.

• A secondary market for tickets, with only about 500 released to the public, would have the highest average price of any sporting event ever. Through Sunday night, about 300 tickets had sold on StubHub with an average price of more than $6,000.

• Mayweather, on a single night, might clear $100 million.


The cost to watch

Watching the superfight on TV could also be expensive.

• The pay-per-view cost is $100, beating the previous high (for Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez, on Sept. 14, 2013) by $20.

• A weigh-in for the first time ever costing money -- $10 per person -- and more than 10,000 tickets sold out in less than an hour and a half.

• Closed circuit tickets at various MGM-owned properties were put on sale Thursday for $150, also a record, and were also sold out -- and that includes many of the 10 hotels having more than one room to show the fight.


Sponsors don't hold back

Companies will have logos displayed on the ring mat and on various pay-per-view graphics.

• Sponsorship for this fight surpassed $13 million, according to ESPN.com's Dan Rafael. The beer deal alone with Tecate ($5.6 million) is worth more than any other fight had ever generated -- which is believed to be in the $4 million range.

• A couch for six people on the stage to watch Chris Brown perform at Drai's Nightclub in the Cromwell on Saturday night costs a minimum of $3,333 per person.

As the fight draws closer, the concerns center on Vegas itself. Can all this be real? How many rooms were reserved by speculators? How many high rollers are coming to town? Will the ticket market collapse? How will the fact that a single ticket wasn't printed until 10 days before the fight challenge the secondary market, the distributing of the tickets?

This might be Vegas' biggest night ever. And since boxing helped build the desert land into a destination, it's only appropriate that the sport is responsible for it.