Bellator MMA CEO Scott Coker recently shared his plans to continue sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coker is hopeful his organization can resume events in July. However, he’s being cautious amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It started with the March 13 event getting postponed,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “We were all in New York, and the virus that week was just starting to hit. New York was a hotbed for the spreading of the virus. So we decided to shut it down because it was the right decision. I told (everyone) to go home and spend time with their families, and we’ll regroup when the time is right.
“This is something I thought would be down for a month or a couple weeks. But it’s a very serious situation, and a lot of people have passed away. A lot of people won’t be back. It’s just heart-wrenching to see the hundreds of thousands of people.”
Coker has already postponed a number of events as the global COVID-19 crisis continues to spread. Starting with March’s Bellator 241 event, the moratorium on live events has extended through June.
“You talk about the people infected and the people passing away, it’s a serious situation. So I told my guys, ‘Look, there’s a time for fighting and putting on these events. There’s a time to be home with your family hunkered down and be safe, because at the end of the day I want my team to be safe and healthy.”
The Viacom Effect
However, unlike the UFC, which is owned by Endeavor/WME, Bellator’s parent company is Viacom and the vast resources they have.
“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.
“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.”