Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday February 27, 2016
No mixed martial arts or boxing, please, we’re Hamilton
(By Andrew Dreschel) For a city that claims to be open for business and eager to generate revenue, Hamilton sure has a funny way of showing it.
Get a load of this story.
Boxing promoter Tyler Buxton figured he had a perfect fight card lined up at the city-owned Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena.
After preliminary bouts between local pros, the main event would feature Hamilton’s own Kevin Higson defending his Canadian super welterweight championship in front of a hometown crowd.
But then the word came from city staff — no combat sports allowed at city-run facilities.
Why, you ask?
We’ll get to that. For now let’s just say banning combat sports is not a council-approved policy. It’s strictly a staff decision.
Buxton, president of United Boxing Promotions, was stunned by the refusal. How could this be? Boxing is a legal and licensed sport, overseen by the Ontario Athletics Commission, which sets rigid safety, medical and liability insurance standards.
Buxton has run boxing events in city-owned community facilities in Ajax and Belleville, and regularly stages fights at the Hershey Centre, privately managed but owned by the City of Mississauga.
“This is the first time I’ve ever had any issues,” he says
Maybe the first for him, but he’s not alone.
Garnet Ace, president of Global Warriors, tried to run a mixed martial arts (MMA) event at the Mountain Arena.
The Ancaster resident says city staff was initially very receptive to renting to him until he got a phone call several weeks later.
“Somebody at City Hall basically said, ‘No, we don’t want it. It’s against our policies.'”
Ace says he pressed but didn’t receive a more detailed explanation. Instead, he moved the event to Burlington’s city-owned Central Arena last May, which was attended by about 2,500 fans.
Both promoters say they want to grow events in Hamilton. Ideally, Ace would like to do four at the Mountain Arena this year alone.
FirstOntario Centre and Hamilton Place are too costly to rent. Private convention facilities too small. With a seating capacity of 3,000 or more, the Mountain Arena is the ideal venue.
The problem is, city staff keep turning thumbs down. It’s not clear who’s making the call or how far up the ladder it goes. Recreation director Jack Brown bounced inquiries to communication staff. (Continued: Hamilton Spectator)