Hawaii has hosted major sporting events before, but what about a UFC bout?
Is there enough interest and money to bring the fight to the islands?
Hawaii is known as a place for sun, sand and surf, but some also want the islands to also be known for its sporting events.
Hosting a UFC bout would help with that image.
Hawaii spends big bucks to market sporting events in the islands.
Last year alone, $6 million went toward big tournaments like the Sony Open, which had days of international coverage, to much smaller events like Duke’s Oceanfest.
Many other sporting events also want some of the state’s money and marketing.
“We’ve had U.S. Curling come to talk about doing something on the ice. We take each thing as it comes and think about objectives as a state. How are we going to best market our state? What is it going to do for visitors, and for residents? Because that is an important factor as well,” said Leslie Dance, Hawaii Tourism Authority Vice President of Marketing and Product Development.
The state isn’t just looking for the biggest events, but wants to spread the interest and funding among various sports. Ones that people watch or participate in, like the Honolulu Marathon.
“We think of it as a portfolio approach. There may be a signature event, a marque event, a Hawaii authentic event and something you come to participate in,” said Dance.
Newly crowned featherweight champion Max Holloway called for a UFC event to be held at Aloha Stadium, the biggest venue in the state.
Aloha Stadium has hosted MMA events before, including one put on by X1 World Events in 2014.
That event drew a crowd of around two thousands fans, but organizers of X1 said a UFC event would be different.
“If you had that event, you would have to figure out how the entire island of Oahu would fit in the stadium.
Plus you have 6 other islands backing Max and backing fighting. So, do we add more stands, put people on the roof, hang them from planes? What are we going to do?” asked X1 World Events promoter Alii Kaanoi.
“This is just the beginning, not even the tip of the iceberg, but it is going to grow enormously,” added Kaanoi.
A spokesman for Aloha Stadium said even during the fall or winter when the high school and college football season is going on, the UFC event could still be held. Because there is always a day or two that is open.
Meanwhile, the Hawaii Tourism Authority will have to see a proposal by a promoter before it decides whether to contribute state money and marketing to a UFC event.