A story that’s seemingly flown right under the radar the last couple weeks is the fact that the UFC is having trouble selling tickets for its 102 event to be held at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The venue holds nearly 20,000 people for an MMA event, but has sold just over 9,000 tickets to date.
It’s surprising news for a number of reasons: Randy Couture is an Oregon boy, MMA is fairly popular in the state, and the UFC has built up a tremendous amount of momentum in recent months. When you look deeper, however, it’s not so surprising at all that UFC 102 is struggling to fill its arena.
The UFC was actually slated to bring their show to Portland back in November of 2008, but it is believed that the organization cancelled those plans and chose Las Vegas instead due to a combination of the poor economy in Oregon and exhoribidant event taxation in Portland.
Fast forward to 2009 and the economy is only getting worse:
Oregon’s economy, bad as it is, will get even worse over the coming months, threatening double-digit unemployment and early school closures while sucking billions of dollars from the state budget, according to a forecast released Friday.
“We’re falling basically into a pit,” said state economist Tom Potiowsky. He had the unenviable job of telling stone-faced state officials how much — or how little — they can spend on education, aid to the poor and other programs.
According to Potiowsky’s forecast, which is used to set state spending levels, the current state budget will come up short by $855 million. For the 2009-11 budget, the gap between projected revenue and the rising cost of state services grows to $3 billion.
The sharp drop stems from the same forces that clobbered the nation’s economy: dried-up export markets, tumbling home values, falling stock prices and frightened consumers.
“The perfect storm is here,” Potiowsky said. “And Oregon is feeling the recession stronger than many other states.” He predicted
Exacerbating the problem even further are the 6% gross receipt taxes levied by both the Oregon State Athletic Commission and the City of Portland for MMA events held in the city - ie., 12%.link