I’m getting a lot of e-mails and reading a lot of message forum posts about why certain sites (such as Sherdog.com) and this site are reporting two different attendance figures for FEG’s Dynamite USA!! show this past Saturday.
Well, we’re all reading the same reports, we’re just interpreting them differently.
It’s actually an age old debate that has been going on in sports for quite some time when it comes to attendance: is final, official reported attendance:
a) paid attendance (total tickets bought/sold)
b) actual physical attendance (people who actually showed up to the event… the head count, turnstile count, etc.).
Here are the facts according to the numbers released by the California State Athletic Commission:
Tickets Sold: 42,757
Turnstile Count: 18,340
It’s up to you to decide whether you believe paid attendance (total tickets sold) or actual attendance (people who showed up) should count as the official attendance number.
Now, CSAC has a disclaimer in its report that certain gates did not have turnstiles, opening up the possibility that people who sat in seats to the event were never officially counted. I don’t have facts, but I have little doubt more than 18,340 somehow made it into the LA Coliseum this past Saturday. But you can’t report official attendance as people who weren’t physically counted.
I don’t believe 42,757 people were ever physically in seats and here’s why: ticketmaster and the LA Coliseum sold 3,674 tickets. The report also says that tickets sold by FEG total 39,083. Now, you might be wondering who FEG sold those tickets to? Well, according to Loretta Hunt of The Fight Network (one of the most trusted reporters in this industry), FEG sold those tickets to themselves!
The vast majority of the 39,083 tickets that FEG bought from themselves (at a reduced rate, since they bought them in bulk) were distributed in the LA area, similiar to the way flyers are handed out on the street (and we all know everyone holds onto a flyer that’s handed to them by a complete stranger). So for the 42,757 number to be actual attendance, it would have meant everyone who was handed a free ticket decided to use it.
What’s the likelihood of that actually happening?
So FEG used smoke and mirrors and shady accounting just so they can claim they set the attendance record for a single MMA event in the U.S.
Which brings us back to tickets sold vs. tickets used.
In Major League Baseball, some teams report official attendance as tickets sold while others report official attendance as tickets used. That’s why a team might sell 35,000 tickets for a game and report it as the official number on a rainy night when only 22,000 people showed up.
So what’s the difference between what some MLB teams do and what FEG did? Well, the teams that use their official number as tickets sold actually sold tickets to real human beings! They didn’t sell them to themselves! You know, the Washington Nationals have bad attendance totals at times. But they don’t buy tickets from themselves in large quantities so they can fudge numbers (well, some teams find other ways to fudge numbers, but that’s a different story).
Based on the fact that the tickets sold in question that weren’t used were tickets bought by FEG, how can anyone report the paid attendance as the actual attendance for the Dynamite USA!! event without some sort of asterisk or disclaimer?
Furthermore, why should FEG be viewed as the record holder for MMA attendance in the U.S.? If any company can buy tickets to their own event and it be allowed to be considered a legitimate practice when reporting official attendance, then the records are a joke and attendance shouldn’t even be counted in the first place. CSAC tracks attendance and CSAC is a government agency. That means the salary of the employees on the commission are paid for by the tax payers. So the people of California are paying money just so a company like FEG can boast a bogus attendance record?
One more thing to add. The total house for the show was $2,545,590. But the total gross receipts for tickets sold by the Coliseum and Ticketmaster (i.e. the total amount of money generated by tickets FEG didn’t sell to themselves) was just $203,090.
I love MMA and I have no personal gripe with FEG or K-1. I would have liked the show to do well. But it didn’t, and I’m not going to report shady accounting as fact.
More than 18,340 people were probably at the event. But nobody officially counted them and that’s the bottom line, folks.