LAS VEGAS — Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, whose company is the majority stakeholder in the UFC, and UFC chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein met with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak by phone on Thursday to update him on the success of the UFC’s COVID-19 testing program during its five cards at its Apex facility in May and June, and their plans for nine shows in August.
Epstein reported to Sisolak that the company did more than 2,500 COVID-19 antigen tests for their shows on May 30, June 6, June 13, June 20 and June 27, with just 11 positives. That is a positivity rate of 0.4, which Epstein said shows the procedures they’ve enacted are working.
Epstein said the two also updated Sisolak on changes they’ll make for the cards in August, which include a pay-per-view, Fight Night shows and “Dana White’s Contender Series” shows.
The biggest of those changes will be that production people from the broadcast crew will no longer work on the floor of Apex and will go to studios on the building’s second floor. They accounted for 60 percent of the people on the floor of the arena, so it will make it a safer environment with less people, Epstein said.
They’ll be in different control rooms and observing social distancing and PPE guidelines, so they will be around fewer people, as well.
“That whole back wall [at Apex] has been production-related people,” Epstein said. “They will all be in the control rooms for the August events, so we’ll have way less people on the floor area. The larger the number of people you have in one space, the more the opportunity to spread the virus.
“By reducing that number by 60 percent, we’ll make the floor even safer. Those people will now never hit the floor. They’ll be socially distancing, wearing PPE, but upstairs in the control rooms and never have any connection to anything that’s happening in the bowl of the arena at Apex.”
Epstein said he and Emanuel also shared the ratings for the shows with Sisolak, pointing out that each show had some sort of element promoting Las Vegas.
He said Sisolak was pleased with the response. Yahoo Sports reached out to the governor’s office for comment but failed to receive a response.
“The governor was pleased with how things went and appreciative of the fact that we lived up to what we told him we were going to do,” Epstein said. “We believe the governor has provided outstanding leadership on this issue and we thanked him for that and told him we wanted to do our part to contribute.”
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