(Way to support the sport, Vancouver.)
If UFC 115 goes off this weekend without a hitch, it won’t be because of the help and support of the City of Vancouver.
According to Vancouver Athletic Commission chair Mirko Mladenovic, the event has been close to being cancelled several times due to the city’s stringent insurance demands of the UFC. Mladenovic told the Vancouver Sun’s Candice MacKinnon that the "astronomical" and "substantial" amount of insurance the city requires will likely deter not only the UFC from coming back to Vancouver during the two-year trial sanctioning period, but he also doubts any other promotions will want to deal with the "ongoing nightmare" Zuffa and the VAC has had to go through while organizing the event.
“They’ve tried so many times to kill this event in so many ways,” Mladenovic said.
Several sources peg the the amount of insurance the city required the UFC to obtain at close to $12 Million CDN, although the city would not substantiate the figure.
At the Toronto press conference held to announce that the company would be opening a Canadian office in the Ontario city two weeks ago, UFC president Dana White shot down the rumor that his organization would likely not make any money from the event. "I hope not. No. That’s not true. We’re making money of the show," White said with a grin.
Members of the commission, all of whom are volunteers who are entrenched in the city’s MMA community, met with the city on Friday and things soon became heated. At one point, Mladenovic threatened to renege on the commission’s motion to sanction the event due to all of the hoops the city was forcing them to jump through, but cooler heads prevailed and the two sides were able to compromise on a few details.
“There are a number of conditions that haven’t yet been satisfied.” said Hamill after the meeting. “We fully expect that they will be. There’s just a number of insurance documents the city hasn’t received and a couple of agreements that need to be be amended slightly. My understanding from talking to the lawyers is that everything is going along fine. It’s just a matter of getting the documentation to confirm everything and to make sure that the lawyers on each side are happy with the legal language and its all done in a way that’s to the satisfaction of both lawyers. We’re fully expecting that it’s going to be resolved.”
City Councillor Kerry Jang told 24 Hours newspaper on Monday that because the sport is technically illegal in British Columbia and that the province isn’t assisting in sanctioning, the city was forced to cover its own ass first.
“The city has been backed into a corner. We have no choice but to demand high insurance, because we’re not protected by the province like Montreal is," Jang explained. "We’ve done everything we can to support MMA in the city.”
Jang also intimated that this is likely the last event the city will be involved with, despite passing a unanimous motion that it would allow MMA shows on a trial basis for two years.
“I think that’s fair to say [that this is the last event we will be involved with]," Jung said. “If the UFC wants to come back, they should be working with the provincial and federal governments.”
Having swum upstream with the city for the past year while working towards getting an event sanctioned in Vancouver, UFC vice-president Marc Ratner told 24 Hours last month that ideally, the company would prefer to do exactly what Jung suggests.
“We want a provincial athletic commission as they do in Quebec,” Ratner said. “It is easer; you’re not dealing with Vancouver, and North Vancouver, and Burnaby and each city on its own.”
For those keeping score, Vancouver council voted to suspend sanctioning of the sport back in 2007 until its risk assessment study was completed. After voting to sanction MMA again on the two-year trial term in the early new year, council in March approved the proposed UFC 115 event, but backtracked on approval after increases to the amount of insurance they had asked for previously were questioned by the UFC. An eleventh hour concession was made and the event was salvaged from being moved elsewhere from the UFC.
Earlier this year, a planned MMA expo in Vancouver was cancelled due to pressure put on the venue by police who feared that such an event would attract a large contingency of groups involved in organized crime.
I reported on an even more ludicrous story a couple years back about how most of the nightclubs on the infamously violence-ridden Granville strip had banned MMA-related clothing lines including TapouT and Affliction because they were allegedly the new style choice of gangbangers in the city.