UFC

Combat sports will have a home in new Las Vegas Stadium

UFC chief operations officer Lawrence Epstein has his sights set on a big venture in the coming years.

How big? Stadium-big.

The UFC executive also serves as the vice chairman of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board and is determined to hold a UFC event at the new Las Vegas Stadium, which is scheduled to open in August 2020.

The UFC previously has held stadium shows, but has never held one in the United States. In an interview with LVSportsBiz, Epstein says he hopes with next year’s Las Vegas Stadium opening, that will change.

“The boxing and MMA events that have gone elsewhere … we’ve done events in Australia and Brazil and Canada that if we would have had a facility here in Las Vegas, we would have done ,” Epstein said. “There have been events at (AT&T) Stadium (in Arlington, Texas) – big boxing events there. There’s no reason why those events wouldn’t have come to Las Vegas. I think combat sports is going to have a home in this facility.”

For football games, Epstein says the stadium will fit around 65,000 people. That’s not including all of the potential floor seats that could be added for an MMA event.

“I think you can configure it in a lot of different ways depending on how many tickets you do want to sell,” Epstein said.

With a massive stage will come massive cards, Epstein said. Don’t expect the UFC to hold every event there, but when the occasional “super-card” comes around, it’ll likely land in the stadium.

“The stadium events are going to be special events,” he said. “They’re going to be that event that warrants this huge crowd and the ability to sell tickets associated with 65,000-seat stadiums.

“We’re still going to be the vast majority of our events at the T-Mobile Arena. We love the facility. The management team is incredible. We do events around the world, and I think it’s the best arena in the world. So we love doing events there and of course, it’s in our home town. We’re going to continue to do the vast majority of our events at the T-Mobile. But for those big, special events, we’re going to look at the (new stadium) and see what we can do there.”

Each stadium show the company has produced so far has presented its own unique challenges, Epstein said.

“When you go to a normal arena (like when) we got to the T-Mobile (Arena), it’s pretty easy,” Epstein said. “The seats are already there. The center hang is designed for that facility. The sound system is designed for that facility for the use that we’re going to use. The staff is used to bringing people in and out of a stadium like that facility. It’s really set up perfectly for our needs.

“When you start going into these stadiums, everything is customized because the stadium is built obviously for football. Now you’re going to put a ring or an octagon in the middle of it and then you’re going to put seating all around that. You’re going to have to make sure sight lines are appropriate. You’ve got to make sure lighting is appropriate. You’ve got to make sure ingress (and0 egress is good. You’ve got to make sure all the things we take for granted at a typical arena are taken care of.”

While it’s much easier to just promote a run-of-the-mill UFC event at a standard arena, Epstein says the payoff lies in the ticket sales.

“It’s just way, way more expensive, but obviously the return is if you sell the tickets,” Epstein said. “That overcomes the additional expense. It’s logistically challenging. You’ve got to make sure it looks right on TV. There’s a variety of things you need to do. The good news is for us that we’ve done it. We know how to do it and those challenges, we’ll figure it out.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.



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