State tourism board refuses UFC’s $6M offer for Hawaii event
HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Tourism Authority has refused the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s $6 million offer to bring an event to the islands, shuttering communication between the two parties that were in talks to host a UFC card starring Hawaii fighter Max Holloway.
UFC President Dana White said on Wednesday that he had no intention of holding a card in Hawaii “anytime soon” after the authority’s refusal.
“Hawaii was happening this year, and it got shut down by the tourism board there,” White said. “We were geared up and ready to go there this year.”
The $6 million proposal would have been the most Hawaii ever paid to host a sports event, topping the $5.2 million deal the authority worked out with the National Football League for the 2016 Pro Bowl.
Holloway, who is 19-3, has asked White and the UFC for more than a year to bring a card to Hawaii. Discussions about a proposed Aug. 4 event picked up steam on Jan. 23 when a five-member delegation representing the authority and Aloha Stadium met with UFC officials at the group’s Las Vegas headquarters.
The $6 million offer was made at that meeting, which was countered with a $1 million offer, the authority said.
“The $6 million price tag, we just couldn’t afford . I mean, that’s not the kind of money that we have,” said Leslie Dance, HTA vice president of marketing and product development. “Whether we’ve paid that for the Pro Bowl or not . that’s what they compared it to. I think that’s where they came up with that number. It’s not the type of money we have in our current budget to fund it, but we really did want to make it work.”
The $1 million the authority said it offered the UFC still would have been “the largest fee paid by the HTA for any single sports event in 2018.”