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Fistfuls of cash: UFC event in Jacksonville brought in nearly $18 million of economic impact

UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville brought in nearly $18 million in economic impact to the city.
UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville brought in nearly $18 million in economic impact to the city. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The UFC came to town last April as coronavirus restrictions eased around the state as Jacksonville hosted the first full capacity indoor sporting event in more than a year.

VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena was packed. There were A-list celebrities all over the place. The card was electric, with Kamaru Usman knocking Jorge Masvidal out cold in the main event of UFC 261.

And that event wound up a very, very profitable one for the city.

On Thursday, the UFC announced that the stop in Jacksonville generated $17.6 million in economic impact for the city, more than half of that on spending by the UFC promotion and visitors from out of state.

UFC president Dana White said after that event that the promotion planned on an eventual return to Jacksonville and a heavier presence around the state due to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ willingness to welcome the UFC to Florida.

Jacksonville hosted UFC 249 in 2020, albeit, without fans since it occurred in the middle of the global pandemic.

Some of the notable financial nuggets from that event, released Thursday by the UFC.

  • $17.6 million total economic output.
  • $9 million in total direct economic input (i.e. direct spending by UFC and visitors from out of state).
  • $8.4 million total salaries and wages paid (not including athletes’ purses).
  • $3.3 million in ticket revenue, highest in VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena history.
  • 211 jobs supported in Jacksonville area.
  • $428,000 in taxes paid by UFC.
  • The event drew visitors from all 50 states and six international markets.
  • $655.9 million total media value generated, including U.S. broadcast visibility on ESPN and global social media exposure.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.