Michael Jackson's memorial at the Los Angeles Staples Center will be a traffic-stopping mob scene; an expensive, coffers-draining circus for the city. But it'll also be a huge cash cow for a number of Los Angeles businesses.
The fact that 1.6 million people registered for the lottery for 17,500 available tickets indicates just how great the demand is. The tickets are free and concert promoter AEG Live wants to make sure that nobody profits from them. EBay is cooperating with AEG's demands and is cracking down on the many tickets for sale that immediately populated
While eBay may not be profiting, many local businesses are hoping to cash in on the estimated hundreds of thousands of people who will flood the area. (The Los Angeles Police Department has asked people to stay home, but that's unlikely to deter devoted fans). The ESPN Zone at the Staples Center tells us it's already experienced "a noticeable and considerable increase in customers." Despite the LAPD warnings, it's expecting the influx of people could bump sales.
Hotels are rolling out the red carpet. With less tourism this year thanks to the economy, it seems like a great opportunity to pack rooms mid-week. The L.A. Convention and Visitors Bureau has partnered with the Michael Jackson fan club to offer special rates for out of towners at a dozen hotels around the city. Westin and Hilton are each offering discounts at two of their hotels.
The Wilshire Grand Hotel, which is the closest hotel to the Staples Center, is offering a 20 percent discount on food and beverages for attendees of the memorial. The Grand tells us that bookings shot through the roof when news of the memorial was first unveiled, but then it was flooded with cancellations after the results of the lottery were announced. The hotel also had about 100 rooms cancelled by regular customers, including flight attendants, who didn't want to get caught up in the chaos of memorial service traffic. But at the end of the day, it'll still be a net win for the hotel, which has seen 30 percent overall increase in business thanks to the memorial. (If you're a major MJ fan, here's the list of discounted hotels
If you want to experience the memorial as part of a crowd, you don't have to head out to Los Angeles. Digital cinema company Cinedigm is looking to broadcast the memorial, live, to up to 80 theaters across the country. Cinedigm has secured the deal with the family and the Staples Center, now it's in the process of securing which theaters will carry the service.
CNBC.com will live stream the memorial.
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