Promoters of a postponed Yellowknife mixed martial arts event say they plan to reschedule for June, and tickets already sold will remain valid.
John Stanley and Scott Thomson postponed Saturday’s Warrior Strong Fight League event after the territory’s liquor licensing board (LLB) refused to grant the event a licence.
The NWT SPCA had applied for that licence – the plan being that the charity could raise funds by running the fight night’s beer garden.
However, as reported on Tuesday, the LLB said that application was late and incomplete.
Stanley accepts “mistakes were made” but says he was baffled by the board’s refusal to make any allowances.
“We received a terrible, disastrous response [from the board],” he said.
“The SPCA has made up to $6,000 at previous events. They are going to suffer, we are going to suffer, the athletes and the sponsors are going to suffer.
“In regards to the fighters, this is disastrous. They’ve been cutting weight. It’s horrible for everybody involved and there was just no consideration for how it affected everybody.”
Read: Liquor licence dispute postpones Yellowknife fight night
Stanley says the promoters had no choice but to postpone the event. If you already have tickets, they will remain valid; once the new date is announced, if you discover you can’t make it, contact the promoters for a refund.
“At any major event in the city, there’s alcohol. It’s disastrous for us. It’s a major part of it,” Stanley told Moose FM.
The new event will be held in front of a smaller audience, to allow promoters to secure a liquor licence in time.
“We’re going to have to lower the attendance on the event. We only have a certain amount of time to get a liquor licence and, with under 500 people, we can get a liquor licence within two weeks – so that’s what we’re going to have to do,” said Stanley.
That’s a drop of 300 from the attendance of 800 the promoters had hoped for this weekend. They say their revenue will drop substantially as a result.
“Right now, just by postponing the event, we’re probably going to be out $10,000. If we cancelled we would be out $25,000-$30,000,” said Stanley.
Thomson added: “It’s just postponed. We’re not cancelling the event. We’re bringing tourism and money into the city and territory, and we really want to promote the sport and help our own amateur athletes.”
Daryl Dolynny, the Range Lake MLA, told Moose FM he could not understand the board’s reluctance to help the event.
Dolynny accused the board of grasping at straws in its response to the promoters’ appeal. The board expressed concerns, in denying the event a licence for the second time, that police numbers would be insufficient on a holiday weekend with territorial campgrounds opening for the season.
“We started to scrape the bottom of the pot,” is how Dolynny characterizes that response.
“This is not part of the regulations. This is a feeling and, I think, a bit of bias on behalf of the board. As far as I know, RCMP were on board – there was a letter of consent, they had extra members on board and overtime approved.
“I was actually quite shocked. I find it a bit heavy-handed. We live in a jurisdiction of 40,000 people, let’s be honest.
“For a population of 40,000, we have rules and regulations in place which would give you the impression we are a population of a million people plus.”
The board told Moose FM it does not comment on its decisions, and only a successful appeal to the Supreme Court would now be enough to overturn that ruling.
Stanley and Thomson hope to announce a new date for the event later this week.