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WEC ticket sales for 6/1 surpassing expectations

wec-logo.jpg When Zuffa-owned World Extreme Cagefighting announced that it would be running the Arco Arena for its June 1 show in Sacramento, Calif., I cringed a little bit.

My initial feeling was that the promotion might be thinking a little too ambitious by running such a large arena so soon. However, my concerns were assuaged upon learning that the arena would be scaled for a smaller crowd.

Well, it looks like the home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings will have to be re-scaled because the WEC announced Wednesday afternoon that all 8,000 of Arco’s lower bowl seats have sold out and that additional tickets are being made available for the event, which will feature hometown hero and WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber taking on former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver.

There are two things that I’ve learned from today’s announcement. Which are:

1) All of the hard work being put in by the WEC’s P.R. staff to develop Faber as a major star is starting to gain traction. Faber was announced to a few Southern California crowds at UFC events and didn’t generate as much of a reaction as you’d expect. However, when Faber was shown on camera at UFC 82 in Columbus, it was a completely different story. Several months back Faber appeared on the covers of a bunch of magazines and I think that has gone a long way towards conditioning the UFC’s audience to react to him like a superstar.

But I have to admit, I am still surprised tickets are selling so well. Faber is still rather new to the mainstream MMA world and even though Sacramento is his hometown, 8,000 tickets and counting for a featherweight is still pretty impressive.

2) The price of MMA is somewhat stunting the growth of the sport. We can talk about all the reasons why boxing is no longer as popular in the U.S. as it once was, and the reasons are numerous. But one problem that gets left out a lot if the fact that boxing turned into a rich person’s sport. MMA is going down the same route. As much as I love the sport, I have to admit, it’s not a cheap sport to follow. The cost to participate in MMA or to watch live or on pay-per-view ain’t exactly cheap.

In regards to ticket prices, tickets for some events aren’t selling as fast as they once did as a result. I am seeing a trend in certain cities where the cheapest tickets for major events sell out quickly yet the medium and higher priced seats are available for a prolonged duration.

If the sport is happy with where it’s at right now, then keep the prices where they are, because people are obviously paying for MMA. However, if the sport wants to continue to grow, I think the powers that be in MMA need to be careful about the rising costs, especially with the current state of the economy. I strongly believe that there are a lot of people that would love to buy PPVs on a regular basis or attend live events that simply don’t have the money.

The strong sales for the June 1 WEC show is a perfect example of what happens when you make tickets more affordable to the public.