In D.C

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 10, 2009 | Go to article overview

In D.C


Byline: Thom Loverro, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

PHILADELPHIA -- The last time I saw Marc Ratner, the UFC vice president was in Columbus, Ohio, talking about the record-setting live gate UFC 68 had drawn at Nationwide Arena.

It was March 2007. The economy was good. Money was still being stuffed in people's pockets. No one was paying attention to a 4.4 percent unemployment rate.

Saturday night, I saw Ratner, the former executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, at UFC 101. People's pockets were empty. The unemployment rate in this country was 9.4 percent - more than double what it was when we met in Columbus.

But just like then, Ratner was talking about the record-setting live gate for Pennsylvania - $3.55 million from a sold-out crowd at Wachovia Center.

*Jack Dempsey did fight [in Philadelphia] and had close to 100,000 people come out to see him,? Ratner said. ?But the dollars were obviously not what they are today.?

Good times, bad times - the dollars seem to be the same for UFC, the mixed martial arts juggernaut that made its Philadelphia debut as 45,000 people were across the street at Citizens Bank Park watching the Phillies.

The show - coming about a year after the state's athletic commission approved the licensing of mixed martial arts - is the closest UFC has gotten to the District. Ratner said UFC will bring an event to the Baltimore-Washington area next year.

* I have had discussions with people at the Verizon Center, the Patriot Center, and had several inquiries from the people at the Baltimore Arena,? Ratner said. ?What it comes down to is economics for us also. Is the tax structure good? Is it more expensive to be in one place than another. What are the pay-per-view numbers there? Those all factor in.

* I feel very strongly we will be in that area sometime in 2010.?

My bet is on Patriot Center, which has hosted a number of mixed martial arts events from the local Ultimate Warrior Challenge promotion. That group is putting on a show at the arena Oct. 3.

They will have to get in line, though. Most arenas are fighting for a chance to get a UFC date so they can get a shot at setting a record live gate.

?We are also going abroad,? Ratner said. ?We are going to Australia in February. We are going back to Manchester, England, in November. …

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