UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has signalled his desire to fight in New Zealand, identifying Mt Smart Stadium as a possible venue to host such an event.
Now, Auckland Stadiums want to make that happen.
The organisation, which oversees Mt Smart, North Harbour and Western Springs stadiums, are looking for opportunities to bring a more diverse range of sporting events to local audiences. Head of Commercial Scott Couch said hosting a UFC event headlined by Adesanya at Mt Smart would be an opportunity they would embrace.
"We're here. We'd love to chat if they'd like to," Couch said.
"We're all about diversity, finding new events to bring to Auckland and showcasing in our city. So if we can help bring something as big as an Israel Adesanya fight, then we would certainly want to be looking at doing that."
The concern for Mt Smart Stadium hosting such an event is the fact the ground does not have a roof, which makes it a risky proposition should the UFC engage in talks to use it as a venue. The two parties have not been in discussions to this point, given the UFC hosted an event in Auckland late last month. However, speaking to the Herald last month, UFC senior vice president of international and content David Shaw said it was definitely on the company's radar.
Last month's fight night was the first time in three years that the UFC had hosted an event in New Zealand and, with a limited number of events available to be hosted in Oceania each year; it's unlikely the promotion will return soon.
However, Couch said Mt Smart could be used to host such an event which would be possible under a similar set up used for Adele's concerts in 2017, which went ahead in the rain.
"If you look at Adele – we did that in the round (covered stage). That would be something we would look at recreating if we could get something like the UFC."
Hosting a UFC event is just one avenue Auckland Stadiums is open to exploring. With the New Zealand Sevens yet to find a home for 2021 calendar, Couch said they were happy to discuss options to host the tournaments in Auckland.
"We're up for pretty much anything if someone wants to come and talk to us about bringing something to our venues. We're here to help put on world class events. So if that's the case we'd be up for it."
Mt Smart Stadium would be the likely venue to host the Sevens should Auckland Stadiums and New Zealand Rugby reach an agreement. North Harbour Stadium is the home to the Auckland Tuatara Australian Baseball League team, and is set up for baseball over the summer months.
Used as such for the first time during the 2019/20 season, North Harbour Stadium was voted as the best venue in the ABL by players.
"You've got to think about the logistics of bringing more in," Couch said of getting more use out of North Harbour Stadium. "It's a baseball diamond for a few months a year, and then it's a rugby stadium.
"There are plans out there to make the ground bigger and have more going on."
As it stands, Mt Smart Stadium is home to the Warriors - recently having new turf laid ahead of the NRL season – and the occasional international league fixture. Outside of that, the venue is largely used as a concert venue, but has hosted other sporadic sporting events such as last year's SX Open motocross event, and will be welcoming the World Rally Championship later in 2020.
"We are always looking for new content, and looking to bring new events to our city."