Wednesday , August 20, 2014 - 3:35 PM
FARMINGTON — Like Hollywood character Rocky Balboa, SteelFist Fight Night MMA officials just kept getting up off the canvas after being knocked down, hoping to receive from the Farmington City Council some respect, and a temporary beer permit for its Oct. 4 event scheduled at the Davis County Legacy Events Center.
Whether it was just a lucky punch, or the third time being the charm, on Tuesday the City Council voted 3-to-1 to approve a temporary beer permit for the group at its next scheduled event at the center.
SteelFist Fight Night producer Brady Grant made the request for the temporary beer permit at a sparsely attended public hearing at Farmington City Hall.
On two previous occasions, the council had denied the fight group a permit to sell beer, citing mixed martial arts and beer not being a good mix, and the MMA events not meeting with community standards.
That forced the fight group to work off of Davis County’s alcohol permit, which forced the group to split the proceeds with the county.
But this time, SteelFist Fight Night had in its corner a track record of having held two such events at the Legacy Events Center in which no criminal incidents were reported.
“They’re compliant with everything they have been asked,” Councilman Brigham Mellor said. “With anything out there (at the Events Center), there is going to be risk. There is really no grounds for us to deny this.”
Councilman John Bilton agreed, pointing out SteelFist officials have been “good stewards” in hosting two previous fight night events at the center in which beer was served.
At the Utah Jazz and Real Salt Lake soccer games, spectators are afforded the same opportunity to buy a beer while they watch a sporting event, Bilton reminded the council.
City Administrator Dave Millheim also spoke to the group’s favorable track record, informing the council that he has personally attended one of the events at the Events Center.
Millheim attended a MMA fight at the center after he had earlier been critical of the sport, referring to MMA events consisting of “rednecks, chain-link fence and beer.”
Councilman Cory Ritz, the lone dissenting vote, said his concerns were with how such large events result in people parking in the neighboring residential areas to avoid having to pay for parking at the center.
Farmington resident Wendy Rasmussen, who attended the public hearing, said fight spectators park in her neighborhood. She also didn’t like mixing beer sales with fans of mixed martial arts.
“MMA fights are notorious for having aggressive, rowdy fans and for having fights break out among the spectators,” Rasmussen said. “Add to that amped-up environment the consumption of alcohol and it is asking for problems to erupt.”
Two other residents also emailed the city, voicing their opposition to the council granting SteelFist Fight Night a temporary permit to sell beer at its venue.
Mayor Jim Talbot told Grant he expects the fight group to monitor its crowd, and to consider reducing its $5 parking fee to prevent spectators from parking in nearby residential neighborhoods.
Farmington city officials by consensus also agreed to meet with county officials in the near future to discuss those same parking concerns.
“I appreciate Farmington (city) doing that,” Davis County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. said of the council approving the temporary beer permit for the MMA group.
“If the citizens are in an uproar (about mixed martial arts fighting), we need to look at it,” Petroff said. But for the most part, any problems associated with Events Center events have been with parking, which the county is in the process of addressing by adding hundreds of additional parking stalls this fall.
Petroff said parking space he anticipates will be in place prior to the Oct. 4 MMA event.
Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.
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