Just because the majority of UFC fans in North America won’t be traveling to the Middle East this week to attend UFC 112 live on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, that doesn’t mean the demand for tickets isn’t high. In fact, the demand in the region is so “overwhelming” they’ve reconfigured the seating at the open-air Concert Arena to make room for more fans.
UFC officials today announced – while citing “overwhelming demand” – that additional tickets have been released for Saturday’s “UFC 112: Invincible” event after a seating reconfiguration.
“The response to UFC 112 from fans across the region has been hugely positive,” stated John Lickr, managing director of Flash Entertainment, an Abu Dhabi government-owned company that purchased 10 percent of the UFC earlier this year. “We hope that by introducing more tickets to the marketplace, we will be able to satisfy demand for this historic event.”
That has to be music to Dana and the Fertitta’s ears. How bad would it have sucked if their new partners helped build an incredible, yet temporary, arena specifically for this event and no one in the region wanted to attend? It wouldn’t have been pretty, especially when you consider the monumental effort and resources that was put into building Concert Arena (via Fight Opinion).
For Lee Charteris, the director of operations for the event organisers, Flash, and the army of 300 staff and sub-contractors he commands, the work started in early December.
He said the structures his company built for the Aerosmith and Beyoncé concerts during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year were impressive enough.
“I thought we had pushed the boat out. But we have gone one [step further] this time. This is the biggest thing I have ever built.”
“We have tried to create within that space what will be the crucible, this big, high-walled amphitheatre that focuses down on the fighters,” Mr Charteris said.
“We obviously provide grandstand seating at a lot of concerts, but this is different in that it’s four large grandstands … with even bigger structures behind them which house the video screens that will be showing the live fights.”
I would say there will be more audio for UFC than the Aerosmith concert,” Mr Charteris said. “It is bone-crushing.”
It was an aggressive plan from the start, but some would argue it’s not quite as ambitious as the latest target Dana White has set his sights on — Cowboys Stadium.
Speaking on the Spike cable channel’s telecast of an UFC card Wednesday night, organization president Dana White said, “We’re definitely, 100 percent going to Cowboys Stadium, no doubt about it. With our sport, people will fly in from all over the world.”
White said the event would happen in the next eight months but did not offer a specific date.
Brett Daniels, the Cowboys’ corporate spokesperson, said there have been discussions with the UFC, but “nothing is definite yet regarding an event at the stadium.”
The sudden desire to stage a UFC card at Jerry Jones’ $1.3 billion state-of-the-art stadium complete with the world’s largest high definition video screen all stemmed from Dana White’s trip there to watch the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey fight. Self-professed “Mr. Anti-Stadium” was so impressed he immediately put Cowboys Stadium on his list of venues for future UFC events.
As WKR reminds us though, 50,994 attended the Pacquiao-Clottey fight while the most the UFC packed into one arena in North America was 21,451 for UFC 97 in Montreal. That’s a wide gap, and one can’t help but wonder if the UFC could fill 50,000 seats in Texas even with a mega-card. I’m sure they could always reconfigure the seating for a more conservative number, but if they can’t hit substantially larger targets than what they do in arenas then what’s the point of running an event in a stadium in the first place? To be honest, I have no idea if the UFC could do it, but it would be very interesting to see them give it a shot.
While very few of us will have the opportunity to watch a UFC event live in a stadium, the UFC’s recent partnership with NCM Fathom has given many of us the next best thing — stadium seating with the UFC on a 70′ wide HD screen. UFC 111 was the first live event shown in 309 theaters across the United States, and while the final numbers aren’t in yet, it appears the added exposure and marketing alone make it a worthwhile venture even if the numbers don’t meet expectations.
We’ve sure come a long way from the days when UFC events were held in civic centers and auditoriums, haven’t we?