Martial arts decision left to Civic Center officials

CNJ Staff Photo: Gabriel Monte Clovis Civic Center’s management company has no policy against booking contact sports at their facilities.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Clovis Civic Center Committee members voted Monday to give the center’s management final say on what events are allowed at the civic center.

The Committee discussed whether to approve a policy on contact sports, such as mixed martial arts events, at the civic center.

Mixed martial arts events are sanctioned by the New Mexico Athletic Commission and require promoters to be licensed by the state.

Global Spectrum, which manages the civic center, has no policy against booking contact sports at their facilities. Civic Center Manager Neil McMullin said the Philadelphia-based management firm have facilities similar to the civic center that book contact sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts.

Committee member Kevin Duncan was against holding the events at the civic center because it didn’t fit with other activities held there.

“I’m not saying we should ban or prevent this event (in the city),” he said. “But you have to ask yourselves, is this what you want your facility to be known for?”

City Commissioner and Civic Center committee member Robert Sandoval said the city cannot prevent a legal event from the center just because the committee might find it inappropriate.

“When we start talking like that, who is going to decide what is right and what is wrong?” he said. “I don’t particularly care for this thing, just like I don’t care for rap music, but yet we have rap concerts here.”

City Attorney Dave Richards said the city could open itself to litigation if it prohibits events such as mixed martial arts at the center.

“You have to have a justification, because at that point you are restricting or limiting freedom of expression based upon content,” he said. “That is not authorized by law for a government to restrict activities that do involve freedom of expression.”

City Manager Joe Thomas said the city commissioners and the mayor could request to have the subject placed in the next commission meeting.

Richards said the commission would have final say on what the policy on contact sports would be.

Civic Center manager Neil McMullin said he would wait and see if the issue will come up in the agenda of the next City Commission meeting on Nov. 15.

“Our position is that we’ll do what the city wants us to do,” he said.