In a few hours the UFC will be holding a big press conference in Toronto to announce something ‘big’. There’s been a lot of speculation on what this would be, from opening offices in the Canadian city to hiring WWE staff to announcing the legalization of MMA in Ontario. I just figured it was going to be the official announcement that Georges St Pierre would be coaching the next season of TUF. But it looks like the UFC might also announce a tentative date for their first stadium event:
Numerous sources have informed me that the organization has reserved Saturday March 26th, 2011 as their first foray into the province of Ontario. This will also mark the UFC’s first event to be held inside a stadium.
The Rogers Centre, with it’s retractable roof, can seat over 46,000 fans for baseball and football, but when floor seats are added, the number dramatically increases to over 65,000. The current record for paid attendance is 68,237, set by Wrestlemania X8, on March 17th, 2002.
Of course, this all assumes that the company is successful at lobbying the federal government to change Canada’s criminal code to take the ambiguity out of whether MMA is a prizefight or not. It also assumes that Ontario’s athletic commission – a bunch of unbelievably obstructive dickwads – will do a 180 immediately after that and implement the infrastructure needed to do the sanctioning by March. The first hurdle sounds likely enough, but the second one I’m not so sure about. This isn’t exactly the first time the UFC has jumped the gun on legalization issues – Dana White seems like a cynical realist most of the time but there’s just something about plum markets like Toronto and New York that seem to make him throw all caution to the wind.
Also on the Ontario legalization front, Toronto held an ‘MMA Day’ rally on Sunday but got less than stellar numbers – around 150 people according to news reports. They should have advertised punch and pie.