The Ultimate Fighting Championship could soon have a new home.
Zuffa Landco LLC, an affiliate of UFC parent Zuffa LLC, has dropped $7.8 million on 24 acres of land with 1,200 feet of frontage along the Las Vegas Beltway near Jones Boulevard.
John Mulkey, CFO of Ultimate Fighting Championship, said the company plans to build a corporate base on the site.
“We’re just very excited to have solidified a location for where we think our worldwide headquarters will be, and we’re excited to be in that part of the Las Vegas Valley,” Mulkey said. “We look forward to a fun planning process and many years of prosperity.”
The land buy is yet another important chapter in the story of a homegrown sports-media giant.
Brothers Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta bought UFC for $2 million in 2001, moved the business from New York to Las Vegas and transformed it into a mixed martial arts juggernaut with $500 million in annual sales as of 2012. It signed a seven-year TV contract with Fox Media Group in 2011, and now broadcasts 50,000 hours of content a year in 145 counties and 28 languages. A 2012 Bloomberg News report pegged the value of Zuffa at $2 billion. Zuffa, whose name comes from the Italian word for “fight,” also has nearly 300 local employees to coordinate its operations.
But all that growth means it’s time for new headquarters. As Zuffa expanded over the last decade, it cobbled together space as needed through leases and building purchases here and there, mostly near Palace Station. That won’t work anymore, Mulkey said.
“To manage our growth, we’ve gotten to the point where we needed one solution for our needs going forward,” he said.
Mulkey said the southwest site appealed to the company for its quick access to McCarran International Airport, and to UFC venues such as MGM Grand Garden Arena. He said company officials also appreciate the “growing number of entrepreneurial ventures” in the southwest. Plus, the area around the site is relatively undeveloped, which will give Zuffa some flexibility in what it builds, Mulkey said.
Zuffa is just the latest entertainment-related business to give a vote of confidence to the southwest Las Vegas commercial submarket. Freeman Exhibit Services, Pepsi Bottling Co., SHFL entertainment, and casino operator Golden Gaming are building or have opened operations along the Las Vegas Beltway, noted Kevin Higgins, SIOR, executive vice president of Voit Real Estate Services and Zuffa’s broker. The area offers a relatively quick drive to either Summerlin or Henderson, and it’s near Interstate 15, Higgins said.
“It’s becoming quite an interesting place, with a good core group of companies,” Higgins said. “This deal instills that it’s a good place to go. It says things are getting more stable in Southern Nevada from a business perspective, and that companies that are consolidating or growing are looking for the right place to do it.”
The land buy also sends a signal to companies both in and out of state that might be looking for a new headquarters site, Higgins said.
“This is a company with applications around the world. They have events everywhere, and the production team is always on the move. Their people and talent could locate literally anywhere in the world,” Higgins said. “Their location here shows other companies what we have to offer.”
Mulkey said it’s too early to estimate a construction cost or to set a date for groundbreaking or occupancy, though Higgins said a site that size could accommodate 300,000 square feet of space.
It’s also too soon to say how many employees the headquarters would house over the next decade, though regardless of the number, the central location would boost efficiencies, Mulkey said.
“We have a really tremendous and evolving production need, and having all of our employees under one roof is going to be a great facilitator to really operating effectively on a worldwide stage,” he said.
Mulkey said UFC officials are “evaluating options” for construction financing.
Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4512. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.