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Big fights could help the ailing Las Vegas economy

Marketplace Staff Nov 11, 2011

Big fights could help the ailing Las Vegas economy

Marketplace Staff Nov 11, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: There’s a big fight slated for tomorrow night in Las Vegas. Manny Pacquiao will take to the ring against Juan Manuel Marquez for boxing’s Welterweight championship.

The Vegas economy has struggled over the last few years, and this boxing match — and particularly Pacquiao’s popularity — could mean a lot of money for the desert oasis.

Raphael Tenorio is an expert in boxing economics. He’s professor at DePaul University,
joining us now from Chicago. Professor, good morning.

Raphael Tenorio : Good morning.

Chiotakis: How much does a fight like this bring into the Vegas economy — the local economy?

Tenorio: Millions and millions. I mean, you have a Filipino and a Mexican fighting each other, and these are some of the most loyal fans in the world. Some of these guys have been in Vegas for a week, or several days, so we’re talking millions and millions on top of the fight revenues themselves

Chiotakis: And this isn’t just ticket sales, right? I mean, they’re going there to stay in hotels and buy dinner — and maybe not even go to the fight?

Tenorio: We’re talking all of the money spent in hotels, all of the money spent in dining, and a huge chunk of gambling as well.

Chiotakis: Why is Manny Pacquiao the cash cow these days?

Tenorio: It’s because he’s a little bit atypical compared to some superstars. He’s a very humble man. He’s a congressman back in the Philippines. And he’s just what we would call a “throwback fighter,” an old-time fighter.

Chiotakis: So a lot of folks are going to spend a lot of money to watch him fight.

Tenorio: Exactly.

Chiotakis: I know Las Vegas has been on hard times for a quite a few years now. Is this a saving grace for it?

Tenorio: These big fights don’t come by every day, or every week, or even every month. But you know, Vegas is a constant, and it’s the biggest city that’s offered these big fights on a consistent basis.

Chiotakis: Rafael Tenorio, professor of economics at DePaul University. Rafael, thank you.

Tenorio: My pleasure.

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