The ink is still drying on the bill that confirms Mixed Martial Arts is now legal in the state of New York, but the UFC are already hard at work planning their first events in the region.
“The minute that the vote passed, our team started calling various arenas and looking at what dates were available,” Fertitta stated during a media conference call. “We don’t want to put the cart before the horse… We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get in at least two before the end of the year.”
New York was the last of the 50 states to legalize the sport, and the reason the UFC has been pushing so hard for this moment quickly becomes clear when Fertitta talks about the impact the region has already had for the promotion on the PPV front, and what they now anticipate it will deliver for them as far as live event revenue goes.
“New York is the biggest market for us already from a pay-per-view standpoint in the United States, the most important media market in the United States,” Fertitta noted. “We have high expectations when we do events at Madison Square Garden or the arenas in upstate New York. We’re looking to break the gate records in each arena that we go to and that includes Madison Square Garden when we eventually get there.””
Rumors that the UFC had a date at MSG already booked for November appear to have been premature, but Fertitta says they are hopeful that they’ll be hosting a massive event there at some stage in the fourth quarter of the year.
“I think it’s gonna be an epic moment for the sport and for the company. Obviously right now all of our focus is on trying to put together the matches for UFC 200, but when we go to New York and eventually debut at Madison Square Garden, [UFC President Dana White] and the rest of the team are going to be very focused on delivering for the fans,” Fertitta said. “We’re going to put together the best available matches that we can. You’ll have the biggest names that we can possibly put on, the biggest names that are available at the time. Believe me, we want to knock it out of the park and we want to deliver to New York in a big way.
“It’s gonna be massive. When you do massive events it takes runway, it’s going to be a tremendous amount of promotion, a ton of marketing assets,” Fertitta continued. “We’re going to have to book the fights that make sense for there. It’s gonna be big, but I think fourth quarter is a realistic for us.”
The UFC’s plans for New York go far beyond just Madison Square Garden though, and for the first three years that the UFC is legal in the state they have already pledged to put on at least four events per year in the region.