Buffalo Wild Wings isn’t going to get caught with its gloves down this time around.
The chicken wing chain plans to air Saturday’s blockbuster boxing match between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather at nearly half of its 1,250 or so restaurants, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Two years ago, Buffalo Wild Wings elected to skip Mayweather’s fight against Manny Pacquiao, crediting the substantial cost. CEO Sally Smith, who is planning to step down by the end of this year, said it would run about $5,100 per restaurant at the time. A handful of company-owned stores still showed the fight, charging a $20 cover, along with about 70 franchisees, Bloomberg reported.
Expect that figure to be just as steep, if not more so, on Saturday.
Joe Hand Promotions Inc., a Pennsylvania-based commercial pay-per-view distributor, holds the exclusive rights to Mayweather vs. McGregor, and told the Charleston City Paper that license prices vary based on the fight and are calculated depending on the restaurant’s fire occupancy certificate. In other words, if a venue can host 100 people, multiply that by $30 and you have your fee. For Buffalo Wild Wings, that’s about half the size of a typical unit.
But even at $6,000 or so a restaurant, which, if you cut 1,250 exactly in half rings up to $3.75 million, it’s an investment many pundits feel the brand has to make.
“It’s something they have to do. It’s a huge event, people want to see it,” Michael Halen, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in the article.
The chain’s base is clearly anchored by sports fans and the Las Vegas fight between one of the UFC’s biggest stars in McGregor and Mayweather, who at 49-0 is one of the best boxers of his generation, is something the chain can’t balk at.
Buffalo Wild Wings is also in a vulnerable state lately when it comes to guest traffic. Its second quarter financials reported a 1.2 percent same-store sales decline at company-owned restaurants and a 2.1 percent fall at franchised stores. The company had 626 corporate stores and 611 franchised as of June 25. Rising chicken wing prices played a leading role in the negative quarter.