Boxing Day: Has The Fight Gone Out Of Vegas?

Listen to the commentary on 'Morning Edition'

Oscar De La Hoya sits during his welterweight fight with Manny Pacquiao in MGM Grand Garden Arena i i

Not like the old days: Oscar De La Hoya sits during his welterweight fight with Manny Pacquiao in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday. De La Hoya lost the fight. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Oscar De La Hoya sits during his welterweight fight with Manny Pacquiao in MGM Grand Garden Arena

Not like the old days: Oscar De La Hoya sits during his welterweight fight with Manny Pacquiao in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday. De La Hoya lost the fight.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Read More Ridley

You can find more of John Ridley's thoughts on his blog, Visible Man.

Las Vegas, like the rest of the country, is doing a post-Money Party detox.

And sure, you could make that point with a bunch of dry stats, like the fact that Nevada's foreclosure rate is one of the highest in the nation.

But I prefer a more personal evaluation — comparing Vegas from one fight night to another: the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather match I attended in May 2007 and the De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao bout this past Saturday.

A Town Half-Empty?

How hard Vegas has been hit was immediately evident when I was able to book a room on the Strip for half-off, at the last minute on a Saturday night.

And speaking of half: My flight out of beautiful downtown Burbank, Calif., was only half full, and half of those folks were connectors headed on beyond Vegas.

McCarran Airport was as empty as Ford Field during the fourth quarter of a Detroit Lions game.

Now, a good indicator of the busyness of Vegas: how long the cab lines are. The one outside the airport was nonexistent.

I stopped by my hotel where, finally, there was a line — for check-in. That probably had more to do with the obvious cutbacks at the front desk.

Taking Stock Of The Strip

Throughout the hotel, free drink coupons and reduced admissions passes were being handed out as liberally as bailout packages in Washington.

The casino floor itself was a little slow, but lively. Certainly not as subdued as when I was there just after Sept. 11, 2001. And most of the folks I talked with — cab drivers, casino hosts — agreed that things were bad, but not awful.

But this was a fight night. Back in 2007, tickets for De La Hoya vs. Mayweather sold out in a couple of hours. For De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao, I could have reserved a couple of eleventh-hour tickets for face value.

Instead — let's say that in the interest of investigative journalism, I procured some tickets from a gentleman outside the arena at a quadruple discount that put me right on the floor.

A Time For Boxing Bargains

The sweet science is best observed close enough that one can see the sweat ejected from a head on the receiving end of a hot jab.

There were a lot of hot jabs Saturday night.

So, compared to a year and a half ago, is Vegas hurting? Very much so. And as a Vegas-phile, seeing the city down on a knee is painful to watch. But with discounted airfare, hotel room and fight tickets, this might be one of the few times I've traveled to the Meadows and actually made money.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.