Board nixes outdoor cage fighting event

FLINT TWP. —Tent sale applicants have faced a tough crowd lately.

The Board of Trustees voted 4-3 on April 16 against an application from Hooters restaurant to host an outdoor Mixed Martial Arts event over the course of the summer that included food and alcoholic beverage service.

Two weeks ago, the board nixed a proposal from Suski Pre-Owned Cars to hold a tent sale in the Genesee Valley Center parking lot. Congestion was a chief reason given for turning down both applications.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller, clerk Kim courts and trustee Barb Vert voted in favor of Hooters application.

Miller said she was willing to give it a try after learning that similar events have been staged successfully in Lansing.

Hooters sought approval to hold competitions outside its restaurant at 3415 Miller Road on May 5, June 2, July 7, August 4 and September 8.

J. Patrick Lowe, attorney for Hooters, said they expected attendance of up to 1,500 people per event and had arranged overflow parking with Genesee Valley Center mall. A shuttle service would be used to ferry patrons back and forth.

Diagrams were provided of a 150 by 60-foot tent that would seat up to 1,500 viewers theater style around a 20-foot octagon fighting cage.

Lowe was accompanied at the meeting by Michelle Winn, Hooters regional manager and another man identified as a promoter for the Iron Cage Extreme (ICE) fight.

Promoters proposed to hold the events from 6 – 10 p.m. and had applied for a license from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to serve beer only in the tent.

Also at least 18 armed security officers would be provided that include a former Flint police chief, ex-military police, off-duty officers and celebrity bodyguards. Promoters said they also had budgeted to add a few township police officers.

Winn said that surrounding business had been made aware of the event and welcomed the influx of potential customers. She also said a portion of proceeds would be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint. Similar events have been held Lansing without incident, she said.

Mixed martial arts is a full contact combat sport that combing punching and wrestling techniques. Fights are sanctioned by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, an organization that sets rules and standards for the fights.

Lowe said the average age of contestants is about 22.

Clerk Courts said that Hooters had provided all necessary documentation for the application including signatures from the police and fire departments. Tracey Tucker, economic development director, had withheld approval from the building department prior to learning that her parking concerns had been resolved by the shuttle arrangement with Genesee Valley Center.

Before casting a favorable vote, Trustee Vert sought assurance that the board could rescind approval if there were problems at the first event.

Trustee Frank Kasle said he voted against the application because events would be held on Saturday nights during the summer in an already congested area. He said he appreciated the attention to details including providing security but the level of armed security needed was troubling.

Trustee George Menoutes also prefaced his objection with concerns that the event spanning six months would place a burden on the Flint Township police department. With 1,500 people attending, Menoutes said he feared someone might get hurt.

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