MI town intends to bar minors from MMA shows

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If promoters bring mixed martial arts, wrestling or similar events to Farmington Hills, city officials want to make sure young people aren’t exposed to the violence.

Council members agreed during a Monday study session that new rules, discussed at a November study session and tabled Dec. 10, should include a provision that prohibits anyone under age 18 from attending the matches.

“I don’t like the idea of kids watching this stuff,” council member Randy Bruce said. “Kids really don’t have the ability to put these things in perspective. To me, this is an adult activity.”

The ordinance, drafted after Police Chief Chuck Nebus received inquiries from event organizers, would replace an existing ordinance that is only about a sentence long. While State of Michigan rules govern professional mixed martial arts events, there are no state-wide rules for amateur events.

City attorney Steve Joppich said the proposed ordinance is “totally defensible on a legal basis”. It requires a detailed application with information about the promoters, the nature and layout of the event, and acknowledgement that the organizers will bring in their own emergency medical and security personnel, among other things.

Joppich said he doesn’t know of any other city that has been as restrictive.

“This ordinance is meant to keep the unscrupulous people out of our city,” Mayor Barry Brickner said. “I would just as soon not have (the events) at all.”

Resident Mary Johnston railed at officials for not banning the sport.

“This entire discussion is appalling,” she said. “You’re talking about doing things people get arrested for … This is not a sport at all, this is unadulterated murder.”

Johnston said there should be a public hearing, and Brickner said members of the public will be able to comment when the ordinance is introduced. City manager Steve Brock said that will likely be at the council’s Feb. 11 meeting.

Officials noted they cannot ban any business that is allowed under Michigan state law. Brock said anyone looking for a channel through which to ban the sports should contact state legislators.

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