November 03, 2009

The big measure of success for Saturday night's fight between FedorEmelianenko and Brett Rogers is whether it will draw good enough ratings on CBS to give Strikeforce a future on network television. But another important test is whether Strikeforce can go into a new market -- Chicago -- and sell out an arena.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker says Saturday night's show has already sold about 85 percent of the 12,000 tickets available, and he expects a sellout. That would be an impressive accomplishment, as Chicago has never been a great market for MMA: Both the UFC and WEC were disappointed by the rate of ticket sales when they came to the Windy City.

A friend of mine who's thinking of going to the event on Saturday night told me that when he searched Ticketmaster, he found floor seats available at $500 a pop, and some pretty good seats above the floor at $75 each. The cheapest seats, priced at $35 and $50, were not available on Ticketmaster. Seats appear to have sold out well enough that large blocks are no longer available: My friend checked to see if he could get 20 together in the $150 price range and couldn't. At StubHub, tickets are available at anywhere from $60 to $1,500, and you can get as many as six together.

With four days to go before the event, it looks to me like there are enough seats available that it's probably not going to sell out. But it's going to be pretty close, and maybe if there's a late surge of publicity for the fight, they could fill the house. Overall it seems like a pretty good showing at the gate for Strikeforce.

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