Scott Coker does have a plan to run empty arena events, which would take place on a soundstage owned by Viacom/CBS.
“We do have a plan, and the plan really is to come back sometime in July on a soundstage either in the Paramount lot or the CBS lot, and start doing fights in a closed environment with no audience, at least for the first three, four months,” Coker said to MMA Junkie. “Because even if they say audiences can come back, I think it’s going to take time, because people don’t have the confidence. The consumers are not going to want to come back to a sporting event and be around thousands of people right from the beginning. It’s going to take time to earn people’s trust that this virus is on its way out. But in the meantime we’re going to keep promoting live events, creating content, putting these big fights on, and it’ll be a closed environment. It’ll be on Paramount, it’ll be on DAZN, and the replays will be on CBS Sports Network.”
This wouldn’t be the first time a promotion has run an empty arena card in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as the UFC, Cage Warriors, One Championship and a host of others have done the same thing.
Coker now has a plan for the promotion to return, but those events may not happen until the Summer or Fall at best.
“Once we find (the venue), negotiate it, create it, get the commission on board, then we’ll go into that setting and start producing these events, which will be made for TV,” Coker said. “Then we’ll monitor it. Is this going to be another three months, five months, two months? Nobody really knows. I’m hoping that it’s over soon because we all want to go back to work and have our fighters fight and get back on TV and do what we do, but again, until it’s safe and we can really make sure all the precautions are done to manage everybody that’s going to be there, we’re going to put a pin in it until we figure it out. If it’s not in July, it’s going to happen in August or September or some point. We’re hopeful that in July we’ll get ready. … At the end of the day this is a business, yes. But we’ll make up that money and we’ll make up those fights. But the health and safety is not something you can make up if things go bad. It’s a business, but it’s still a business of people, and a business of fighters. When the time’s right you’ll get the call and we’ll take care of you and we’ll honor our contracts. Just be patient and we’ll get through this thing together, then we’ll get busy.”
The next scheduled Bellator event is Bellator Dublin, which won’t be taking place until October.