First, until its closing in 1963 after numerous deconstructions, relocations and a fire that forced its fourth reincarnation, it was the Polo Grounds made famous by the likes of Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis.
Then, five years later, Madison Square Garden became the “Mecca of Boxing” thanks to an elite generation of heavyweights that counted Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier among their rank and file.
In 1993, though the neighbouring Thomas & Mack Center established a decade prior had already began attracting some of boxing’s top cards, the MGM Grand Garden Arena opened in Las Vegas and changed combat sports forever in its successful quest to redirect the vast majority of money-spinning main events from New York to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Last year, also founded by the MGM Group in partnership with Anschutz Entertainment, the T-Mobile Arena just off the Strip was unveiled with a view to becoming a primary venue for combat sports.
From the outset, there were already quarrels as president Dana White insisted the christening of the venue had been promised to him for UFC 200. Instead, this honour went to Saul Alvarez and Amir Khan, with the Mexican middleweight returning to the 20,000 seat arena for Saturday’s controversial draw with Gennady Golovkin.
Meanwhile, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders plan their move to the desert metropolis, which brings with it a new $2 billion stadium and uncertainty surrounding the fate of both the MGM Grand and T-Mobile in the coming years.
Using $750 million of public money, the Raiders will foot the rest of the bill helped by a $650 million loan from Bank of America. Eager to pay the piper, there will be pressure to host large events in addition to NFL games to keep the wolves from the door.
Echoed in the manner in which Top Rank promoter Bob Arum took Manny Pacquiao fights to the Dallas Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium and Floyd Mayweather flirted with the idea of showcasing his skills at Wembley, which Anthony Joshua famously filled with 90,000 punters earlier this year against Wladimir Klitschko, will boxing try to take its biggest bouts to a stadium capable of exceeding 70,000 spectators and increasing both attendance and total revenue at the gate at least three-fold?
Likewise for MMA, scorned by an almost immediate betrayal from the owners of a venue that had supposedly been set aside for its own cards and yet again passed over in favour of a sport that it so desperately craves to usurp, who’s to say that the UFC won’t opt for more lucrative climbs when its crossover stars such as Conor Mcgregor are scheduled for action?
— Las Vegas RJ (@reviewjournal) September 18, 2017
Though not every event will be capable of filling the inbound Las Vegas Stadium, a power struggle between the three venues will ensue the moment it opens its gates. For cutthroat promoters thinking only about the bottom line, their loyalty can be bought and sold to the highest bidder.
Accused of purposely setting up a sequel between Canelo and GGG via Saturday’s eyebrow-raising official decision, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy is quite possibly stewing over the fact that the Raiders’ new home isn’t already set for action.