Forum Exec On Last Minute UFC 232 Prep
On Sunday, the UFC announced that their final event of 2018 would be moved from Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena to The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Forum VP of Operations, Rick Merrill spoke with MMA Fighting on Thursday and claimed that: “There’s a lot of elements that have to come together and have to coordinate in a short amount of time.”
“I think the most difficult process was for our box office,” Merrill said. “Obviously, what do you do with the tickets that were sold at T-Mobile and what happens with our arena? They don’t match up, obviously, seat wise. Our box office had to build the shell and I know John [Valenzuela], our box office manager, I think he said he was up until 2 a.m. on Christmas Eve building the shell alone and trying to coordinate how pre-sales were gonna work.”
The process began on December 22nd when the staff was informed that their holiday break would be postponed and began scrambling to build things out for the last-notice Pay-Per-View event.
“Everyone being out on holiday, we had to start putting out feelers and see who was available and who was able to come back and get going,” Merrill said. “That also included our food and beverage staff. They needed product, because we had ordered for New Year’s, not anticipating an event. So F&B had to get involved. Merchandisers, we had to wrangle them and find out what’s happening with them, as well as our parking staff, security, ushers, marketing. What marketing needs we could help out with internally. … Our publicist, sponsor activations. There’s a lot of elements that have to come together and have to coordinate in a short amount of time.”
Merrill told MMA Fighting that both the Forum and UFC are working “hand in hand” to ensure everything goes off without a hitch on Saturday night.
“I think there’s always a strain on a short-notice kind of thing,” he said. “Usually when an event was confirmed, you have months or several weeks to plan it out and have lots of meetings and things. Fortunately, we’re done fights in the past and we have a big one coming up Jan. 26. We have the greatest of all-time heavyweight (Fedor Emelianenko), we have Bellator 214 coming in. So we’re kind of prepared for it. Unfortunately, we’re not prepared for the holiday that interferes with the normal, day-to-day operations. We had just an extremely busy September, October, November, December, so everyone was looking forward to the 10-day break. So there literally were people just escaping LA and planning to be with their families and everything.
“But from the people that I’ve spoken to around the venue today, there’s a lot of excitement about the fight coming here. So I don’t see anybody that’s really miserable. It’s an opportunity for everybody in the building. I think everybody is excited to do it.”
Initial Report: MMA Fighting