Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White said Tuesday he believes many sports leagues could resume competition but it would come at a price.
“Listen, it’s expensive. You’re going to lose your live gate, which is millions and millions of dollars,” White said on “Closing Bell.” “You’re going to lose a lot of money. And it’s going to cost you a lot of money now to put on the sport, to make sure that it is safe. It can be done. The question is are they willing to do it.”
Sports in the United States have largely been on hold since early March, when it became clear that the coronavirus pandemic was spreading across the country. UFC has an event scheduled for Saturday and two more for the following week as it returns after a shutdown caused by the pandemic.
Other sports, including Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, have not announced when they will start again. Some team executives and player agents have lobbied the NBA to cancel the rest of its season.
The upcoming UFC events will have no fans and staffing levels more than 50% below normal, White said, and all the fighters and staffers involved will be tested for the coronavirus.
“Health and safety isn’t something that just popped up with the coronavirus with us. It’s something we think about every weekend,” White said.
The mixed martial arts organization is also looking at staging events on an island over the summer to avoid travel restrictions that countries around the world have imposed to slow the spread of the virus, White said.
The UFC events will be the rare live sporting event on television during the crisis. White said he believes the audience for the events will be strong but can’t be sure how many viewers they will attract.
“Three months ago I could have answered any questions about my business. I don’t know now,” White said.