Is San Diego ready? Is San Diego ready to spend their hard-earned cash on tickets to see Strikeforce live and in person? That is the question I find myself asking these days. Having lived here for more than 30 years, I know San Diego has a reputation as a bad sports town. It was proven in 2010 when the San Diego Padres were in first place almost the entire season and drew small crowds nightly. The San Diego Chargers had won four straight AFC West titles coming into the 2010 season, yet their home opener was blacked out on local TV due to poor ticket sales. It’s hard to make a strong case that we are even an average sports town. The NBA has had three teams leave here; the NHL didn’t even bother, instead choosing hockey hotbeds like Phoenix and Tampa over “America’s Finest City”.
I am asking the question now with news that Strikeforce is bringing a great card featuring Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley to town on April 9th. San Diego is always in the top 10 when it comes to UFC PPV buys, and more often than not in the top 5. That shows me we love our MMA. I am just not convinced that love will be strong enough to get people off their couch and out to the arena where it’s $50.00-$100.00 per head, instead of the flat $55.00 PPV fee.
I am hoping for a huge crowd (9k+) so Strikeforce (and maybe the UFC) are forced to make my sleepy little home town a regular stop. There is no reason San Diego shouldn’t host two (if not three) cards per year. I had friends ask me about the card over the weekend, which I have to admit surprised me. These friends are sports fans, but not really MMA fans, so I thought for a brief second that maybe I was scared for nothing. Wrong. The fears came right back when silence was all I heard after guessing good seats would run $75.00. What were they expecting $7.00 for floor seats? This isn’t a Joe Louis or Jack Dempsey fight.
I don’t get to as many concerts as I used to, but I have to think for a good band you are paying at least $60.00. Decent baseball seats run at least $30.00, but they have 81 games a year so they have to price a little lower. The NFL is going to run at least $75.00 for nose-bleeds etc.
I can understand people’s reluctance to spend decent money if the card was average, but that isn’t the case for the card on the 9th. Diaz/Daley is a must see for any real fan. Gil Melendez against Kawajiri should be a great fight, and Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle should be another fun fight. That’s three really good fights, plus we hear Shinya Aoki and KJ Noons will be on the card. It may not be GSP vs. Anderson Silva, but it also isn’t Jon Jones vs. Vladimir Matushenko which was the main event for the UFC’s only trip to town.
Strikeforce will not own the night, as the LA Dodgers will be across town taking on the Padres. That’s a problem as these games always sell out, but still that’s 40,000 people in a city of 3 million.
Crazy circumstances brought Strikeforce to town, now it’s up to the fair weather fans of San Diego to make sure they come back. With a baseball team picked to finish last, and a football team eying a move to LA, we better embrace anybody that decides to come here. I’m buying my two seats, are you?