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Gate-fee hike could spur higher ticket prices

Beginning July 1, it’s going to become more expensive for boxing promoters to do business in Nevada.

The Legislature last week raised the gate fee from 4 percent to 6 percent. That 50 percent tax increase on tickets will mean less profit going back to the promoter, and it could mean higher ticket prices as promoters try to recoup some of their lost revenue.

For every ticket sold to a boxing match or mixed martial arts event, 4 percent goes to the state. Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer said that amounted to $2.6 million in revenue for Nevada in fiscal year 2009. By going to 6 percent and using the same figures as 2009, that would generate an additional $1.3 million in revenue for the state, which is dealing with a budget deficit of $887 million.

The money generated through the tax increase will go into the state’s general fund.

“It remains to be seen if it will negatively impact boxing in Nevada,” Kizer said. “This came directly from the Legislature, and it’s being done to help close the budget deficit in the state.”

Promoters will have three options. They can raise ticket prices to cover their costs; they can pay their fighters less in purse money and keep ticket prices the same; or they can move their events to other states where it costs less to do business.

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, whose company is based in Las Vegas, said he understands the state’s decision.

“Am I happy about it? Of course not,” Arum said. “But … everyone has to realize that money has to come from somewhere to pay for education and for services. Everyone has to pay their fair share.”

Crown Boxing’s Frank Luca said he is concerned the fee hike could impact how he promotes his shows at The Orleans.

“If I have to pass on the expense to my customers, a $25 ticket may cease to exist,” he said. “Or, I may have to pay the fighters less, which would impact the quality of my shows and would turn off the fans.

“If you keep taxing small businesses, you’re going to drive business out of Las Vegas, and the net result would be less revenue for the state.”

Nevada’s 6 percent tax is double that of some states. In Texas, where Manny Pacquiao will fight Joshua Clottey on Saturday, the tax on tickets is 3 percent.

It’s also 3 percent in New York and Illinois. In California, the tax is 5 percent but capped at $100,000 (anything more than that figure is not taxed). Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri also have a 5 percent ticket tax.

“I don’t see it impacting what we do at all,” Arum said. “We’ll still do business in Nevada, and it doesn’t necessarily mean higher ticket prices. It depends on who’s fighting who and what the demand is.”

■ CROWN CARD — North Las Vegas featherweight Brian Battease has landed a main-event fight after an impressive performance in January.

Battease (6-1-2, one knockout) will face Allen Martinez (5-1-1, three KOs) in a six-round fight to highlight Crown Boxing’s card Friday at The Orleans.

Battease won a four-round unanimous decision over Jairo Delgado on Jan. 22. Friday’s fight will be his first at six rounds. Martinez, who will be fighting in Las Vegas for the first time, has won five straight.

The first bell for the six-bout card is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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