It wasn’t the answer Hawaii fans wanted to hear, but UFC president Dana White made it very clear that a UFC Hawaii event at any of Oahu’s three existing venues is highly unlikely.
White did, however, tell KHON2 he supports a recent proposal to build a smaller, modernized Aloha Stadium. If it has a retractable roof, White promises to bring the UFC to Hawaii.
Three months ago, the Stadium Authority recommended the construction of a new stadium, which would be cheaper than maintaining the existing 43-year-old venue.
T. Jay Thompson, former ICON promoter, says White’s comments should be taken into consideration.
“It’s a really interesting opportunity for the state of Hawaii. I’ve got information that when they did their first show at Madison Square Garden in New York, they had over $40 million of revenue infused into the city from that one event. They had over 200 local jobs created for that week, and again that’s for a one-off event,” Thompson said.
“I know the UFC well enough that if they come somewhere and they’re successful, they’ll want to return once or twice a year. You’re talking about something at least as big as the Pro Bowl,” Thompson continued. “I come from the MMA business. I’m obviously a huge fan of mixed martial arts and yeah, wouldn’t it be great to have the UFC in Hawaii and how fun would it be to go to one of these fights. But more importantly, you’ve got to look at the benefit that comes to the state’s economy. I think that probably should be on the forefront of whoever is in charge or in line of making these decisions about a new arena or redoing of an old, rundown Aloha Stadium.”
Stadium Authority chair Ross Yamasaki says he is aware of White’s comments, and the information could help shape the design requirements for the proposed new stadium.
In a statement he said:
“As a board member I feel that the statement by Mr. White on behalf of the UFC validates few points that the Board’s consultant has reported. First, there is a need for a larger venue in the state of Hawaii to host events for the benefit of the community. Second, there is market demand for such a venue. Finally, there is market demand that the current facility may not readily capture.
“Please note that the current concepts and associated cost of an new venue in the consultant reports do not include a covering, however it is information from the market that will help shape the design requirements of the venue and associated financing options as the process moves along.
“Right now the Authority is proceeding with its plans for a EIS/Masterplan of the stadium site, which will provide the Authority, the Legislature and the Administration greater clarity regarding next steps for development.”