By Mike Pomranz
Updated May 01, 2015
© ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy

Where are you planning on watching the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight tomorrow? If you plan to watch it at home, get ready to fork over $99 for the pay-per-view—the most expensive pay-per-view event of all time. But that cost is nothing compared to what bars are being charged to show the biggest boxing match in recent memory.

Bars and restaurants who want to show the fight can’t just order it like the rest of us; they are required to purchase a license. The Guardian spoke with G&G Boxing, the company that sells these licenses, and was told that the cost “is determined by the occupancy of your establishment, among other factors.” A source at ESPN claims the number is a bar’s fire code occupancy multiplied by $25. The anecdotal evidence varies even more widely, but in general, most quotes seem to range around the $5,000 mark.

Buffalo Wild Wings, one of the largest sports bar chains in the country, told Bloomberg it would have cost them about $5,100 each to air the fight at all 1,080 of their locations. Instead, only a handful of company-owned locations and about 70 of their franchises plan to air the fight. The company-owned locations will be charging a $20 cover, the first time they’ve ever done that before.

Meanwhile, smaller bar owners share the same woes. A bar in Wilmington, Delaware, claims they were quoted a price tag of $5,000 for their 257-seat location. Some cardrooms in California said their quote was as high as $50 per person.

“It’s prohibitively expensive,” the owner of New York City’s 13th Step told First We Feast. “It doesn’t make any sense to show the fight. It’s not a good business decision…. It’s a boxing match, so it can go for three minutes if someone gets out in the first round.” He claims one of his bars was given a quote of $5,700.

But wait, why can’t a bar just buy it for $99 and show it illegally? Turns out there’s an entire system for policing bars that take that risk, with big financial incentives for those who turn in illegal showings and the potential for big fines against the business that try to get around those big fees.

Thanks in part to all these outrageous numbers, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquiao are expected to end up splitting around $300 million. Remind me again why this fight took so many years to come to fruition?