LAS VEGAS -- One week before he will step into the ring for perhaps the final time in his career to face Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather is sitting in the corner of a strip club at 3:30 a.m.
This is not just any strip club, mind you; it's his very own strip club.
"He's here every night," said one staff member at Girl Collection, the Las Vegas strip club Mayweather opened three months ago. "He wants to make sure everything is running smoothly."
The 6,000-square-foot building, which Mayweather bought for $2.9 million last year, screams of the Mayweather brand. The outside is covered in TMT (The Money Team) logos with a white Rolls-Royce with TMT logos on the tinted windows parked out front. Inside, the main stage is surrounded by three flat-screen televisions playing a commercial for the upcoming Mayweather-McGregor fight on a loop and advertising the "Official Floyd Mayweather 50-0 After Party," which will be held at Girl Collection after the fight.
Mayweather, who says he hasn't had a lap dance in 20 years, takes in the scene from a couch in the corner of the club while dancers perform for him and his guests. He said he will be at the club every night leading up to the fight, giving fans willing to pay the $50 cover fee, which doesn't include a two-drink minimum that pushes the admission price around $100, a chance to see him in person during fight week.
"It's going to be the craziest week we've ever had," said one of the dancers at the club. "I'm already planning a vacation with the money I'm going to be making that week."
While Mayweather and McGregor will be the biggest financial winners after their fight Saturday, they aren't the only ones who are banking on this weekend being one of the biggest Las Vegas has ever experienced.
"It's a crazy to look at someone's table and think that's my annual salary sitting right there."
The Mayweather-McGregor fight was announced on June 14. That was a Wednesday. Ryan Rearden, the director of VIP services at Drai's Beachclub and Nightclub, will always remember that because Wednesdays are supposed to be his day off.
"I was out hiking, trying to relax and enjoy myself, when my phone went nuts," Rearden said. "People were sending me screenshots of the announcement asking me what it was going to take to get a table this weekend. I had never seen anything like it. People were already telling me to put them down for $25,000 or $40,000. They wanted their tables for that weekend."
Drai's is a 65,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor club, 11 stories atop The Cromwell hotel with sprawling views of The Strip around a palm-tree-laced pool. When Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao two years ago, Drai's had 50 Cent, Chris Brown and Busta Rhymes performing during the weekend. Rearden believes this weekend could be the largest in the club's history, with Snoop Dogg kicking things off with a "swim night" party Tuesday and 50 Cent, Trey Songz and Jeezy performing Friday. Chris Brown will have a postfight concert Saturday, and Fabolous will wrap up the weekend Sunday.
"Somebody bought a table for $25,000, and somebody called in two days later saying, 'Hey, I want my table for Friday,' and we had to say, 'Hey, sorry, we already sold it for $25,000.' They said, 'I don't care. I'll give you $50,000."Ryan Rearden, director of VIP services at Drai's Beachclub and Nightclub
"The money that comes in here with a big boxing event isn't really comparable to anything else," Rearden said. "Mayweather-Pacquiao was one of the biggest events we've seen in terms of nightlife revenue numbers and reservation counts. We're seeing the same thing here, but the difference we're seeing with Mayweather-McGregor compared to Mayweather-Pacquiao is that influx of high-level European money. In my entire career, the Mayweather-Pacquiao night was one of the top three busiest nights I've ever done, and this is already trending at a higher rate in terms of our reservation count and our demanded price for our tables. We're basically sold out."
The "basically" is an important word in Rearden's line of work. Las Vegas is one of those cities where nothing is ever really sold out if your pockets are deep enough and you want something bad enough.
"Somebody bought a table for $25,000, and somebody called in two days later saying, 'Hey, I want my table for Friday,' and we had to say, 'Hey, sorry, we already sold it for $25,000.' They said, 'I don't care. I'll give you $50,000,'" Rearden said. "This only happens with the big boxing events. There's an arrogance that comes with it. So they won't take no for answer. They'll tell me, 'No, you won't tell me I can't. I will pay you whatever it takes, and I will get this table.' It makes for an interesting dynamic when sometimes you have to tell someone that is essentially offering you the price of a brand-new [Cadillac] Escalade for one night of drinks, 'Hey, I'm sorry, but we don't have anything available.'"
Rearden smiles when he is asked about the $110,000 Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reportedly spent at club LIV in Miami after the Mavericks won the NBA championship in 2011. "We will have a couple of people that will put that to shame this weekend," he said. "It's crazy to look at someone's table and think that's my annual salary sitting right there."
It's not hard to imagine several tables doubling and tripling Cuban's infamous night out with his team when you consider a 15-liter bottle of Ace of Spades Brut Rose will run you $120,000 this weekend at Drai's.
The capacity at Drai's is 4,500 with 175 tables available. All of the tables have already been sold or earmarked, and Rearden expects the club will be at overcapacity, forcing him to undoubtedly deliver bad news to people he would roll out the red carpet for on a normal weekend.
"I know we're going to get to Friday and Saturday and someone's going to want a table that I just can't accommodate," Rearden said. "I've had a couple of multiplatinum artists you've heard of walk up and demand things, and I have to tell them, 'I can't give you what I don't have.' We can't accommodate everyone, and this is going to be a weekend where it's going to be impossible to please everyone."
"I've never seen something like this in terms of transactions."
Jay Kornegay, the vice president of race and sports operations at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, never thought he'd actually see the Mayweather-McGregor fight happen when he put out the first odds.
Back on Feb. 16 when Mayweather and McGregor were sparring over social media and fight fans were talking about the hypothetical matchup, the Westgate put out the first line on the fight. It placed Mayweather as a heavy -2500 (25-1) favorite with McGregor as a +1100 (11-1) underdog.
"I got to be honest with you, when they made the fight official, I didn't think it was going to be anywhere near the handle for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, but it's going to surpass it," Kornegay said. "The estimated handle for Mayweather-Pacquiao was $50 million in the state of the Nevada. That was the highest handled fight of all time. I don't know what the number will be for Mayweather-McGregor, but it's going to be well above $50 million. My guess is it will approach $70 million."
Kornegay knew he'd get some action on McGregor, given the long odds. What he and no one working at a sportsbook in Vegas could have imagined is the number of bets that have come in and continue to come in on McGregor regardless of how much the line changes. Mayweather is now a -500 favorite with McGregor a +375 underdog, a staggering change from the first odds released earlier this year.
"We have a strong liability on McGregor. We're north of a $2 million liability if he wins but we'll end up taking 90 percent of the money from 3 p.m. Friday until they touch gloves Saturday night so we have a lot of money to come on this fight. I think a lot of Mayweather money will come in because he's at such a historically low price compared to what he normally gets against someone who has never had a professional boxing match."Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports operations at MGM Resorts International
"The bets just started rolling in after it was announced," Kornegay said. "It was off the charts. There was so much McGregor money at the beginning. Small stuff, $50 to $500 bets on McGregor. A couple of weeks ago, we started seeing some Mayweather money. We saw a couple of six-figure wagers, which came earlier than expected. Normally those come a few days before the fight. But the McGregor bets keep coming in."
Mayweather is widely regarded as one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of all time and is looking to push his record to 50-0. McGregor just got his Nevada boxing license three months ago. This seems like an easy fight to predict, but people often bet with their hearts rather than their minds in Las Vegas, a city built on the backs of losing tickets and bad beats.
"This just happened today, and it actually happens a few times a day," Kornegay said. "A guy will come to the window and say, 'I know Mayweather is going to kill him, what's the line?' We say you have to lay five to win one and they'll say, 'OK, what about Conor?' And we'll say, 'Well, with every one you get 3.75' and they say, 'Shoot, give me Conor!' We understand the mentality. No one in the general public wants to lay $500 to win $100. Now if you tell them if they bet $100 they can win $375, they're all over it."
McGregor has tallied over 6,000 transactions or tickets at the MGM Resorts sportsbooks compared with just 200 for Mayweather, but there's a big difference in the amount being wagered. The average McGregor bet at MGM Resorts is about $112 per ticket, and the average bet for Mayweather is about $3,700 per ticket.
"I've never seen something like this in terms of transactions," said Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports operations at MGM Resorts International. "We've got transactions we normally see a couple of days before or the day of the fight already in the system. People coming to town just want to get a bet in on this fight before they go home. We have a good amount of money on both sides, but I need more money on Mayweather at this point.
"We have a strong liability on McGregor. We're north of a $2 million liability if he wins, but we'll end up taking 90 percent of the money from 3 p.m. Friday until they touch gloves Saturday night, so we have a lot of money to come on this fight. I think a lot of Mayweather money will come in because he's at such a historically low price compared to what he normally gets against someone who has never had a professional boxing match."
"The bottom line is the place will be packed."
Tickets are still available for Saturday's Mayweather-McGregor fight. That's no secret. There has been no shortage of stories written on the fact that thousands of seats remain unclaimed on the secondary market.
There were 1,880 tickets available on StubHub for the fight entering this week with the starting price around $1,600. The problem is many fans aren't looking to pay that much for upper corner seats that should be a third of that price. Despite the large number of tickets left, the Mayweather-McGregor fight is currently the second-best-selling fight of all time on StubHub, trailing only Mayweather-Pacquiao. The average ticket price for Mayweather-McGregor on StubHub is $3,574, which also trails only Mayweather-Pacquiao, which had an average ticket price of $4,456.
"I've read the same stories, but the bottom line is the place will be packed and it will surpass the Mayweather-Pacquiao gate [$72 million], and that was more than anything we had ever seen before," said Ken Solky, former president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers and the founder of LasVegasTickets.com and 1-800-LAS-VEGAS. "The gate is being pegged at $80 million. They already had over $60 million two weeks out."
Solky, who has been Mayweather's ticket broker for over a decade and received 600 tickets from Mayweather Promotions to sell, said he recently sold a package of 48 tickets for the fight for $500,000 and expects to sell two front row center tickets for the fight at $100,000 each. He said the most expensive and cheapest tickets sold out the fastest and have been the easiest to sell with fans wanting to sit on the floor at any cost or just want to get in the door at an affordable price. It's the middle tickets selling anywhere from $4,500 to $7,500 that have been the hardest to move, but he believes those will eventually move too this week as fight night approaches.
"There is no question that Vegas -- perhaps unlike anywhere else -- has a larger percentage of people who make the decision to purchase tickets in the last 3-4 days," Solky said. "I think most people are waiting because they're thinking and hoping ticket prices will go lower. Everyone wants the best deal. It's a unique business. When you go to a restaurant and the steak is $52, that's what you pay. You don't wait in the lobby waiting for the steak price to come down, but that's what happens here. You'll see a lot of people waiting for the best deal and then they'll buy those tickets before the fight."
"This weekend is going to be an absolute monster for us."
The last weekend of August is generally considered one of the slowest weekends on the Las Vegas calendar. Summer is over for most students as they return to school; it's one week before Labor Day weekend; and it's two weeks before Mexican Independence Day weekend, which has become one of the biggest fight weekends of the year.
But the announcement of the Mayweather-McGregor fight changed that. The average three-night stay in a Las Vegas hotel this weekend was about $133 per night before the announcement of the fight. Afterward, the average cost per night jumped to $233, a rise of 75 percent.
"Prior to the fight being announced, we knew that the fight would happen, so we increased rates substantially in order to accommodate demand," said Micah Richins, chief commercial officer for MGM Resorts International. "When I use the word 'substantial,' I'm not talking about $10 or $20 increase. We meaningfully raised the rates to position this weekend with rates that would put it amongst the best weekends of the year."
While rooms are still available at MGM's properties in Las Vegas, which include the MGM Grand, Bellagio, New York-New York, Monte Carlo, Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, Luxor and Circus Circus, Richins said, "We are on pace to be sold out at all of our Las Vegas resorts both Friday and Saturday nights."
Each resort will also be hosting closed-circuit viewing parties with general admission tickets going for $150 and $290 for open-bar tickets being sold at the MGM Grand and Bellagio.
Hotels along Las Vegas' Strip aren't the only ones that will benefit from the fight, even though MGM, which is the official host hotel of the fight, is the only property able to show the fight on closed circuit. Many hotels located in Downtown Las Vegas and Fremont Street will be at capacity, as well.
"I was in a hotel meeting when the fight was announced, and all of our eyebrows went up and all of our phones started lighting up," said Derek Stevens, owner of the D Hotel, the Golden Gate Hotel and the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. "The hotel rates across town over the next 2-3 hours jumped, and phone calls started coming in through the reservation line and casino hosts. It went from one of the slowest weekends of the year to one of the top weekends of the year in an instant. We've actually never seen anything like that."
The D Hotel and the Golden Gate Hotel essentially sold out three weeks ago, according to Stevens, and he expects more money to come into the city for Mayweather-McGregor than for Mayweather-Pacquiao with the high number of European visitors, especially from Ireland, who normally stay for 5-6 nights rather than just the weekend after the long flight.
"I expect this to be the biggest weekend in our history," Stevens said. "I also got lucky because seven months ago we booked the Dropkick Murphys to perform the Friday before the fight. They're Dana White's favorite band and one of Conor McGregor's favorites, too. So we just got luckier than hell. I think Friday night I'm going to have over 10,000 crazy Irishmen outside at the concert singing and dancing. This weekend is going to be an absolute monster for us."
"I don't know how the fight's going to turn out, but Las Vegas is going to be a big winner."
Of all the reservations being taken this weekend in Las Vegas, perhaps none is as sought after as the ability to land and take off in a private jet from Las Vegas' McCarron International Airport.
When Mayweather fought Pacquiao two years ago, the large number of private jets flying into Las Vegas overwhelmed the airport crew and made for memorable photos of jets parking wing to wing as one taxiway had to be closed and temporarily used as a jet parking lot.
That won't be the case this weekend, as planes flying into Las Vegas will be forced to make a reservation before their arrival and any aircraft that doesn't have a reservation will be rerouted to Henderson or North Las Vegas once ramp capacity is reached.
"We are basically already full," said Patrick Sniffen, vice president of marketing at Signature Aviation, which has a private terminal at McCarron. "There will be very limited parking for aircrafts, so we'll see a fair number of them come in, drop off their passengers and then reposition the aircraft to return and pick up their passengers later. We are accepting reservations for parking space, but we are at capacity at this point."
Sniffen didn't have an exact figure on the number of flights expected this weekend in Las Vegas but said there will be "hundreds of aircrafts coming in and leaving and, depending on the size, parking" at Signature. After what happened two years ago during the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, Sniffen said, more staff and equipment are being brought in to handle the influx of aircraft.
"Flight crews were calling almost immediately after the fight was announced to reserve a parking spot," Sniffen said. "We work with the airport specifically to be able to handle these types of events to be able to handle the traffic as safely and efficiently as possible."
The celebrity list for Saturday's fight is expected to include Drake, Jamie Foxx, LeBron James, Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron and others who will be flying into Las Vegas privately. But many of the private travelers will include high rollers and business executives from around the world who have been planning their extravagant Las Vegas getaway since the Mayweather-McGregor fight became official three months ago.
"I got requests from China, Dubai and London as soon as the fight was announced," said Eric Echeveria, owner of World Class Jets. "The slots at the airport are at a premium. They're basically gone. It's going to be one of the busiest weekends Las Vegas has ever seen. I don't know how the fight's going to turn out, but Las Vegas is going to be a big winner."