The financial impacts of allowing mixed martial arts events at the municipal auditorium could be considerable for Moberly, Knuckled Up Promotions owner and Moberly graduate Ricky Davidson said at a May 19 Moberly Park Board meeting. A single event could bring in $48,000 and upward of $400,000 per year if multiple events are held.
The niche sport once catered to a select few die-hard fans, but MMA fights and events now are a regular feature on television sports channels.
“Based upon Moberly’s own tourism model, there can be a financial impact from events that come to town,” Davidson said. “People spend money on food, lodging, making purchases at local retailers and [more].”
The last time an MMA event was held in Moberly was 10 years ago. The city in recent years has denied requests over concerns over floor damage caused by the assembly, use and dismantling of the fighter’s octagonal cage.
Multiple layers of artificial surfaces are laid under the 2,400-pound, 18-foot wide caged ring to help protect the auditorium’s wood floor, Davidson said. His business also has liability insurance to pay for any possible damage. He presented a report from surveys he took of downtown businesses to the board along with fight promotion data.
Davidson has hosted performances at Moberly Area Community College’s Activity Center, VFW Post 2654, Rothwell Park’s Riley Pavilion, and other outdoor locations. Indoor locations work best, though, as they provide a more controlled environment for the public and fight participants alike, he said.
Along with promoting events, Davidson teaches MMA to teeenagers and adult enthusiasts.
“The Municipal Auditorium by far is the best site for us to host a venue because its more spectator friendly,” he said.
The auditorium also is safer for contestants. They are able to remain downstairs away from the public until it is time for their fight. The atmosphere at activity center at the college and the municipal auditorium do not compare, Davidson said.
“People have told me how they like the view from the auditorium balcony because it’s like putting them right on top of the cage to see the action taking place,” he said.
Events have different weight classes for MMA, kick boxing and traditional boxing for both male and female for athletes ages 13 and older. Around 15 amateur fights take place on a event nights.
Park board members Mary Lee Noel and Don Hughes supported Davidson’s proposal. There was no formal action, but the board will make a decision at its June 16 meeting.
Depot Park Addition
The Moberly City County approved a contract May 18 with the Lake St. Louis-based firm Hutchison Recreation and Design to design and construct a 30- by 54-foot steel pavilion at Depot Park in downtown Moberly.
The estimated $109,700 structure will include public restroom facilities, and construction may begin this fall. Parks department personnel will be responsible for routine maintenance on the building. Moberly Rotary Club is donating $40,000 towards the project, Moberly Parks and Recreation Director Troy Bock said.
In other business
The park board the parks and recreation department extended its lease agreement with Moberly Area Soccer Association for use of Shepherd Field for another 25 years at $1 per year. The association is responsible for maintenance upkeep on any structures and utility needs as well as mowing.
The board amended contract measures with the Randolph County Fair Board for costs and property usage at Rothwell Park. The fair has eliminated some activities and reduced its typical eight-day showcase to become a “show-and-go” event July 15-17 due to COVID-19 restriction. Livestock are taken off a trailer, shown before judges and then returned to the livestock trailer. Details about the modified county fair will be announced at a later date.
Children’s playground equipment and tennis courts at all park locations remain off-limits to the public. Refunds will be mailed by the end of the week to those who purchased a season swimming pass to the Aquatic Center that is closed for the summer due to the pandemic.
Park Board Vacancies
Park board terms for Pattee Smith, Lindsay Hunt and Kay Harris expire May 31. Both Hunt and Harris are seeking reappointment, while Chris Van Houten and Barry Richardson have applied to fill a vacancy. The Moberly City Council will determine who will fill board vacancies. Other board members are Don Burton, Harley Mattox, Russ Kennison and Rachel Grime.