Earlier this week, we blogged about the upcoming UFC event at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Slated for April 30th, UFC 129 will mark the first major mixed martial arts event in the history of Ontario. At this time last year, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was insisting that legalizing the sport of MMA in the province was not a priority.
Both fans and organizers of the sport were not deterred. UFC President Dana White had predicted that by the end of 2010, mixed martial arts would become legal in Ontario, which is considered one of the biggest MMA markets in the world. Today, just about six months after Ontario legalized the sport, tickets for its first big show sold out within a few short hours.
As QMI Agency’s Morris Dalla Costa reports today, pre-sale tickets for UFC 129 went on sale and 42,000 seats were sold. It was reported earlier this week that there were plans to seat approximately 40,000 people at the Rogers Centre for the huge event on April 30th. This means that the show has been sold out even before tickets have officially gone on sale!
Needless to say, this has made many an MMA fan miffed at the prospect of missing out on going to the show. In our blog from this past Wednesday, we noted that Dana White informed a crowd of fans at press conference in Toronto that tickets would be going on sale this weekend.
For anyone denying the massive popularity of the sport – especially in Ontario – Dalla Costa reveals some staggering figures. Tickets ranged in price from $50 to $800. Some fans paid a $90 premium to join a fan club just for the opportunity to have a “first crack” at buying tickets.
Montreal’s Bell Centre, which has held a number of UFC events in the past, have all sold out to the tune of nearly 22,000 fans. The Rogers Centre show will, by far, dwarf the size of any previous MMA show held by UFC. Calling Ontario the “mecca” for mixed martial arts earlier this week, White certainly knew what he was talking about.
One of the main arguments on behalf of the sport’s legalization in the province of Ontario has to do with the economic impact that it would have. With so many fans picking up tickets so quickly, it is evident that fans of the sport from this region are willing to spend their money to take in a live show.
Not to mention, with Canadian fighters such as Georges St-Pierre and Mark Hominick on the Toronto card, there is no doubt that much more money will be spent in the downtown core by fans coming from far and wide to see their favourite fighters compete. Hominick commented on the excitement in Toronto about the upcoming event at the press conference earlier this week.
“There was a fan meet and greet at 4 o’clock and people were lining up outside in the cold from 10 a.m. just to get an autograph,” he recounts, “They finally had to shut the doors. I felt bad. People were waiting outside and we had to stop because we had to go somewhere else. It was insane.”