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NBA-Boxing Twin Bill Causes Circuit Overload

June 07, 1996|LARRY STEWART

It could have worked out so well--the Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics live on free television at 6 tonight, then Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez on pay-per-view at 8:30 or so.

With a little luck, the basketball game would have been over just about when the fight was beginning.

But no, not with promoter Bob Arum at odds with the cable industry. Arum took a step back to the past and put this fight on only at closed-circuit locations.

So now you have to choose, either stay home to watch the basketball game or battle traffic and crowds to watch the fight.

If you're planning to watch part of the Bulls-SuperSonics, then rush to a closed-circuit location, forget it.

The man in charge of the Southern California closed-circuit showings, Rick Kulis, president of Event Entertainment of Rolling Hills Estates, says people planning to walk up right before the main event and buy tickets are probably going to be disappointed.

Kulis said Thursday there were only a few $35 seats left at the Forum and Long Beach Arena--the $40 and $45 seats are all gone--and Orange County locations are all sold out except for some seats at Fullerton Stadium.

The best bet, Kulis said, is the Rose Bowl, which was added as a location on Monday. There are about 20,000 general admission seats there, with walk-up seats at $45. Kulis, however, said they were going fast and warns there could be a huge walk-up crowd.

Gates open at most locations at 5 p.m., with the undercard at 6 p.m.


There are 2.5 million seats available in the United States and 2 million in Mexico, where ticket prices range from $4 to $50, the average being $10.

If the fight draws 1.5 million in the United States and 1 million in Mexico--it's not really expected to do that well--the total gross for the fight would be a record $75 million.

The last major fight that was available primarily at closed-circuit locations and not on pay-per-view was Sugar Ray Leonard-Marvelous Marvin Hagler nine years ago. That fight grossed about $68 million, still the money record.

The money record for a pay-per-view fight is $63 million for Mike Tyson-Peter McNeeley, which had 1.4 million pay-per-view buys. The record for pay-per-view buys is 1.45 million for George Foreman-Evander Holyfield in 1991.

Arum figures all money records will be broken by tonight's fight, despite the conflict with the NBA game.

"We have our own fan base, and the basketball game is simply the second of what is going to be a four-game sweep," he said.


Don't tell NBC's Bill Walton it's going to be a sweep. "The home team is supposed to win Game 1," he said. "Winning on the road is the key."

Game 1 got a national rating of 16.8, tying the record for an NBA finals Game 1, set by Phoenix and the Bulls in 1993.

The L.A. rating was 21.3, one of the best in the country outside Chicago, which got a 46.9, and Seattle, a 39.0.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Fox on Tuesday night got a national rating of 3.7, up 16% from the 3.2 for Game 1 last year.

Regarding hockey ratings, NBC's Marv Albert earlier in the week said, "They go from a 1.5 to a 2.5 and then make a big deal out of the percentage."

Fox's first Saturday of baseball telecasts last weekend got a respectable 3.1.


Recommended viewing: It has been four weeks since Brett Butler had to tell his four children he had cancer and that he might die.

Butler, in an interview taped at his home in Duluth, Ga., tells Roy Firestone on ESPN's "Up Close Prime Time" Saturday at 5 p.m. that his kids' main concern was if the cancer hurt.

"That's the big thing for kids," Butler said.

Butler talks about his disease, his faith, the death of his mother from brain cancer last year and the death of his father in 1984 at 49 of a heart attack.

"If you are going to accept the good, you have to accept the bad," he says of God's will.

Butler admits that his goal of returning to the Dodgers by September is "way out there," and he also says if he never played baseball again, that would be OK.

Butler, devoutly religious, calls contracting cancer a blessing.

"You can't say it's an honor--no one would want to go through this--but it has been a blessing," he tells Firestone. "It has been a blessing to see all the love and affection people have for me in this country."

Firestone predicts there won't be many dry eyes by the end of the Butler segment.

Jimmy Johnson and Carl Lewis are also featured on the one-hour special.

TV-Radio Notes

After NBC leaves tonight's NBA game, there will be a half-hour postgame show on cable network CNBC. . . . Channel 5 will preempt "Cheers" tonight at 11 for a special postfight show, with Stu Nahan reporting live from Las Vegas. . . . The Discovery Channel looks at what makes an athlete great in a two-hour special, "The Ultimate Athlete: Pushing the Limit," which will make its debut Sunday at 9 p.m.

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