Mixed Martial Arts

UFC announces record first day sales for UFC 129 in Toronto

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The Canadian Press
2/10/2011 6:25:31 PM
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TORONTO -- Toronto's appetite for the UFC is proving to be near insatiable.

The mixed martial arts juggernaut enjoyed a record day at the box office Thursday, selling more than 42,000 tickets -- its entire original ticket block -- for UFC 129 on April 30 at the Rogers Centre.

And they went in the first day of a pre-sale, with some paying a premium of almost $90 to join the fan club that had first crack at the tickets for the UFC's first show in Ontario.

"I LOVE CANADA!" UFC president Dana White told The Canadian Press in a text message.

The previous UFC attendance record was UFC 124 in Montreal, which drew 23,152 to the Bell Centre in December. White often refers to Canada as the mecca of mixed martial arts.

"To say the response was overwhelming would be an understatement," said Tom Wright, the UFC's director of Canadian operations.

"In less than an hour we were pretty well down to some singles (tickets)."

It took the UFC even less time -- just seven or eight minutes after tickets went on sale to members of the UFC Fight Club at 10 a.m. ET -- to decide it needed to make several thousand more tickets available so there would be some left when the general public gets a chance to buy them Saturday.

On Friday, another pre-sale is set for those who subscribe to the UFC newsletter.

Wright would not detail the possible total number of seats on sale but said 50,000 would be "pushing it."

"I'd love to see a first digit (of) five but time will tell."

Tickets ranging in price from $50 to $800 went fast.

A search for best available tickets at noon produced a $50 limited view seat in the upper tier 500 level of the Rogers Centre.

With service charges and a one-year Fight Club membership ($88.19), the total rose to $153.69.

Some of those who managed to buy tickets Thursday were quick to put them up for resale. One seller offered eight side-by-side seats in Section 115 -- face value of $150 each -- for $4,500 or $562.50 each.

Another on Craigslist offered two $50 tickets for $175 each "or highest bidder.

Tickets also appeared on Stubhub, a ticket reseller.

The Fight Club has about 20,000 members worldwide, including some 7,000 in Canada. They are allowed to buy up to eight tickets in the pre-sale.

But being a member does not guarantee getting a ticket.

"Incredibly disappointed as a fan and fight club member still couldn't get tickets for UFC 129. Even at 10am. Horrible," Amy Miranda tweeted to White.

Others were more upbeat.

"Fight club membership well worth the money now that I've the tickets," tweeted Brian Doran.

Would-be buyers were able to view the Rogers Centre configuration for the MMA show on www.ufc.com, including the view from the seats on sale. The virtual display came together in just 13 days, Wright said.

Wright said the ticket rush interest showed fans the UFC had made the "right decision" to come to the Rogers Centre.

"You can imagine if we'd gone to the ACC (Air Canada Centre) -- great facility but we might be disappointing 30,000 fans if we went to the ACC for this first fight (card in Toronto)," he added.

The Rogers Centre card will be the UFC's sixth in Canada. Montreal has hosted UFC 83, 97, 113 and 124 while Vancouver hosted UFC 115.

The Rogers Centre says its capacity is 46,105 for baseball and 46,374 for football, not including luxury suite seats.

WrestleMania X8 attracted 68,237 in March 2002 to the then SkyDome. Bands like AC/DC have drawn crowds of 45,000.

Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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