(FYI: If you shine this signal into the sky, Bruce Buffer shows up at your door with a carload of chicks and some party favors.)
It looks like the UFC may be saving Toronto for big money superfights in the future based on the record sellout of April’s upcoming UFC 129 event — the promotion’s first in the Canadian province of Ontario.
With a pre-estimated 55,000+ attendance and more than $11-million live gate that blows away the previous record of $8-million set by a 2008 regular season Buffalo Bills game, it’s no surprise that Dana White and co. would want to bring their marquee fights back to the city’s Rogers Centre in the future.
White told Yahoo’s Dave Meltzer that “Hogtown” has hopped to the front of the line of go-to stadium venue locations ahead of Dallas, Texas where Zuffa will likely host superfights like the proposed Georges St-Pierre-Anderson Silva bout that the promotion is hoping to make before the end of 2011.
“The problem with doing Dallas is the number of [hotel] rooms down there,” White said. “As big as that stadium is, there aren’t a lot of rooms. Our sport, like the Super Bowl, will bring in people from all over the world. Toronto is a huge, hip city of things for people to do, clubs, restaurants …”
The city’s close proximity to other MMA hotbeds like Michigan, New York and Quebec doesn’t hurt, either.
The fact that the show sold out all of the 42,000 tickets available in the pre-sale and that an additional 10,000 tickets the UFC made available by reconfiguring the seating layout of the venue went just as fast the second day before they went on general sale to the public established Toronto as Zuffa’s ace-in-the-hole when it comes to being a surefire sellout.
According to the UFC’s director of Canadian operations, Tom Wright, who was the former commissioner of the Canadian Football League, the Grey Cup (the CFL’s version of the Super Bowl) has never even come close to selling as many tickets as UFC 129, which speaks to the popularity of the sport in the country Dana White refers to as “The Mecca of MMA.”
“The Grey Cup has never sold out like this event sold out Rogers Centre,” he said. “I think it’s a reflection of our sport. The Grey Cup is a great Canadian celebration, but this is a worldwide celebration.”
When asked about the fact that the record falls short of the all time combat sport live gate record set by the Oscar de la Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight in Las Vegas in 2007, White said it was like comparing apples to oranges as boxing ticket prices are ridiculous and that the casinos buy a large portion of them.
“We sold 55,000 tickets, those are all to fans. You know boxing doesn’t sell tickets to regular fans,” he said. “Boxing guys put tickets up for ridiculous prices and casinos buy the tickets. The reason we doubled the gate [company record] is because there’s 55,000 tickets. Boxing does a $20 million gate, but boxing charges five grand for tickets because casinos buy the gate. We have real fans buying our tickets.”
And by “real fans,” he means “scalpers and ticket brokers.”