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UFC Owner Admits Apex Events Suck: ‘It’s Just Not the Same Experience’
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UFC Owner Admits Apex Events Suck: ‘It’s Just Not the Same Experience’

The UFC has heard complaints from fans that the Apex is a terrible location to watch fights, and while they don’t plan to stop hosting events there completely, there is some hope that we will see fewer events there in the future shall see.

In a new TKO earnings call, an investor asked why the UFC continued to hold shows at the Apex when demand for live shows was so high in the domestic and international markets.

“Marketing events is as much about growing our fan base as it is about generating revenue,” responded TKO COO Mark Shapiro. (quotes via FightOracle). “But it’s also about making sure that we maintain certain margins and a certain profitability profile, and there’s a cost-benefit analysis for us where we look at the opportunity cost of organizing events domestically and internationally and holding them at Apex .”

“And what we do in every budget cycle, as you will undoubtedly understand, is finding the right mix, not only to generate revenue, but also to ensure profitability. And those Apex events have the lowest cost structure for us to hold them on our home turf in Las Vegas. So I don’t think we’ve found the perfect mix yet, but you can be sure we’re looking at the numbers and working on it.”

“If we make a mistake on one side, we’ll talk about it down the road,” TKO CFO Andrew Schleimer agreed. “(When) we’re in the Apex in front of a couple hundred people, it’s just not the same experience, and we don’t get that touch. And we get that feedback.”

As the WWE is now experimenting with holding some of its own smaller shows at the Apex, we have our doubts as to whether the executive suite is ready to leverage profitability vectors with increased usage of the UFC Apex. Boo.

But there’s one VC-friendly way the UFC can undoubtedly break out of the Apex, and that’s with site fees. Over the years, more and more cities are paying the UFC to come and put on shows, which is a wild reversal from the early days when MMA was actively banned from most states.

The more site fees offered, the more shows outside the Apex. And there are many site fees offered.

“Quite frankly, site fees are becoming the norm,” Shapiro says. “If we take the show on the road, we will need subsidies and/or money to bring our events to your city.”

‘And furthermore, the cities where we already receive location costs? We come back for the second year and we see the site costs increasing. So demand is high and the dollars that cities are willing to pay for our business increases with every call we have.”

That could be bad news for cash-strapped taxpayers who hope cities will pour their money into social services and crumbling infrastructure. But it’s good news for us sports fans who hate watching fights in the sterile UFC Apex. Now let’s hope the C-Suite gives matchmakers a cut of the site fees to make these Fight Night lineups pop.