Tue Dec 07 12:30pm EST
UFC officially headed to Toronto's Rogers Centre in April of 2011
By Steve Cofield
The UFC announced another major breakthrough today. During a press conference in Toronto, Dana White confirmed that the promotion finally has an event set for Ontario in 2011.
The UFC will stage its first fight in Ontario on April 30 at the Rogers Centre, president Dana White said Tuesday morning. White told media at a press conference at the Air Canada Centre that he expects the UFC 131 event will be the most attended of all time.
The Toronto Sun says a huge crowd is expected.
The provincial government expects that a major UFC event in Ontario would draw up to 30,000 fans and generate up to $6 million for the local economy, including cash from hotel rooms rentals, restaurant meal expenditures and retail purchases.
The promotion, led by the efforts of Marc Ratner, has worked for years to get MMA licensed in Canada's most populated province. It finally got initial approval back in August.
The event is also significant because it will mark the first time the UFC will hold an event in a stadium.
Formerly known as Skydome, Rogers Centre, the home of MLB's Toronto Blue Jays, can seat 49,000 for baseball and 54,000 for football.
Dana White stated on many occasions that he was hesitant to hold an event in such a big venue. The UFC president worried about the integrity of the event.
"I don't want to do one of these big stadiums and lose the live experience, where it's too big and you're looking down and seeing these little ants fighting inside the Octagon," said White.
UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta was bullish on the possibility.
"It looks like we're going to try and do the Rogers Centre," Fertitta said in October. "We looked at the [Air Canada Centre] too, but we want to break the record for attendance to MMA... We'll try to get about 40,000 to 50,000 people in there."