A fighting promotions group has asked for more MMA to happen in Fort St. John – but they’re going to have to wait until the city fully weighs in on the one that happened last May before they can enter the octagon once more.
On Monday, City of Fort St. John’s General Manager of Community Services Wally Ferris told council that Hard Knocks Fighting, who hosted an MMA event last May – had approached the city with a request to host mixed-martial arts fights within city-owned facilities next November and May.
Hard Knocks CEO Ari Taub confirmed this.
“The (previous) event we put on was a world class event,” he said. “Every event we put on is going to be the world class event...I think Hard Knocks mandate is to drive the sport of mixed martial arts in canada, and in order to do that we have to be running regular events in places like Fort St. John, and all over the country.”
The Energetic City was a good place for this type of event, he went on to say.
“I think fort st john is a hotbed for mixed martial arts,” he said. “There's a couple of different clubs there; there's a lot of fighters. The community generally enjoys watching those sorts of events.”
But before this entertainment comes back, city council still needs to sort out the last event.
In a report to city council, it was said that the last one that happened, Hard Knocks 36 last May - was “a qualified success.”
“The crowd was well-behaved and enthusiastic and there was very little negative feedback coming from the audience except when one of the fights didn’t provide as much action as desired.”
(With the exception of one truck that backed into a Zamboni door, causing $500 in damage, no person or building was hurt - outside of the ring, of course.)
These were marked as ‘pros,’ but not everything went as expected.
While city staff expected to sell 2,300 tickets, less than a 1,000 were actually sold.
(This didn’t surprise Taub. He said that many people didn’t know what to expect with a Hard Knocks event, and that now that they had an idea of what to expect, attendance would “skyrocket.”)
The city review also had issues with the event.
“The professional and volunteer security personnel were not coordinated in advance and it did not appear that were working cooperatively,” the report noted.
Another con was that access to the building “could have been more controlled before, during and after the event for spectators, competitions, contractors and staff,” the city report stated.
And there was still some questions that Fort St. John city council wanted answered before they would okay MMA to return.
Councillor Byron Stewart asked how much money was raised for the Rotary Club due to the May event.
“This took up a lot of staff time, RCMP time with an event that carried a lot of concern,” he said. “We'd like to know how much benefit was brought to the community.”
Councillor Larry Evans - a Rotary volunteer - said that the amount of money it brought to the Rotary Club was still being determined.
[Taub said that he still planned to partner with the Rotary Club for these future events.]
He also said that eventually, the volunteers eventually coordinated their workloads and began to work cooperatively during the event.
Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman asked whether or not security would have been sufficient had the 2,300 people they expected showed up.
Craig Stanley, the city’s director of facilities and grounds, said that he believed it would have been enough.
Councillor Gord Klassen also said that he wanted to accurately count the number of staff hours it takes to make events like the previous Hard Knocks fight happen.
“If (city staff) can come and make sure we get as close as possible to payback on the building that would be great
City council voted to ask city staff to come forward with a process to deal with the volunteer coordination and other ‘con’ issues.