SCHENECTADY -- Cage Wars President and Owner Tim Rankins said fight promoters set the bar with their first casino events.
It would appear the bar has been set high, as Saturday’s card at Rivers Casino & Resort sold out two weeks before the fights, which are the first Cage Wars -- founded 10 years ago -- has ever staged in a casino. That pleased not only Rankins, but casino officials as well.
“It’s the quickest sellout,” said Justin Moore, assistant general manager for Rivers Casino & Resort. “[The fight card] sold out much faster than other events we’ve had in the past, including The Commodores and (comedian) Frank Caliendo.”
Due to the facility's capacity, tickets for the event were capped at 1,000. Though all tickets are sold, Rankins said that hasn’t stopped people who weren’t able buy them from contacting him.
“We definitely could have sold more, if the room was bigger.” Rankins said.
Ticket prices for the event ranged from $40 to $75. The event will feature a card of 18 amateur fights.
Rankins is already looking forward to more MMA events at Rivers.
“I’d like to do an event every eight weeks,” he said.
That would be fine by Chris Kern, vice president of marketing for Rivers Casino & Resort. He said the success of ticket sales for the upcoming fights shows the casino is able to host a variety of events.
“If you sell out something like this the first time, you’re almost guaranteed to get another shot,” Kern said.
He added that the hope is people going to the fights also want to do a bit of gambling, and possibly get some food at one of the restaurants at the casino. He said the fight generated so much interest that Rivers had to move fighters from the Landing Hotel, which is connected to the casino, to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel nearby in Mohawk Harbor, in order to accommodate guests coming for the fights.
New York legalized the sport of MMA in 2016. One member of the state Legislature, who was an advocate for legalization, was pleased to see the casino preparing to host its first MMA event.
“Hundreds of new visitors coming to the Electric City on Saturday,” said state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Amsterdam, during a media event at the casino Thursday. “That means a big win for tourism. That means it’s a boost for our local economy. These are the things we we talked about when we were trying to pass the legislation in the state Assembly.”
Santabarbara said he believes it will lead to more professional events coming to the area.
Tommy Marcellino, a professional MMA fighter from Amsterdam who has been promoting events with Rankins, praised the casino on Thursday.
“They did a ton of things to help set up the event,” Marcellino said.
Though the event is sold out, those looking to watch the fights can go to www.cagewarsny.com to live stream the fights for $9.99.
The event will take place inside the casino’s Event Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and fights begin at 8 p.m.