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Horrible atmosphere at CSAC. strained promoter relations

By Zach Arnold | July 12, 2012

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The big story behind the scenes at the UFC on Fuel 4 event in San Jose, California on Wednesday had less to do with what happened in the cage and more about what is going on with the California State Athletic Commission.

The UFC show, which drew 4,250 (paid/comps) for a $163,000 gate, was not what the Department of Consumer Affairs & CSAC wanted to see given their revenue shortfalls & exploding costs.

At the Wednesday show, numerous officials from DCA were on hand with top CSAC officials (George Dodd, Sarah Waklee, Che Guevara) and one source indicated to us that staff was overwhelmed with paperwork issues. Remember, what makes the job so hard right now for so many at the commission is that doctors & inspectors still are doing paperwork to process fighter information as opposed to having a computerized system. Throw in the fact that DCA & Chairman John Frierson are limiting the number of inspectors per show to three and what you have is a recipe for a higher risk of liability at future shows, particularly MMA events. One major aspect of cutting down staff for MMA shows is having inspectors who can not only procure samples from fighters during drug tests but also make sure that recreational drug usage (meth, cocaine) isn’t happening while the show is taking place. It’s impossible to monitor these kinds of activities when you have so many people backstage at a show and you only have a couple of inspectors.

What makes the cuts in the number of inspectors per show even more painful for promoters in California is that they are still paying the full fee for inspectors and only getting half the service. Again, the issue with the exploding inspector costs in California isn’t about the number of inspectors. The issue has been the fact that DCA approved budgets for CSAC where full-time state employees were booked as inspectors, resulting in time-and-a-half overtime pay rates plus benefits including airplane tickets, Cadillac Escalade rental cars, and meal money. If you use six inspectors who aren’t full-time state employees and don’t get all the benefits, you would still pay less than you would for using three inspectors at a show who are full-time state employees.

The atmosphere at the San Jose show for the administrators was not good. The power brokers at DCA, who do not have any real experience in the fight business nor do they understand the complex issues about promoting boxing & MMA events, are now in ultra-bean counter mode to try to investigate what is going on and why things have gone as badly as they have. It’s a matter of dumb and dumber working hand-in-hand.

Relations between DCA & promoters is at an all-time low in the state of California. On average, there are about 7 ~ 10 regulated boxing & MMA shows taking place in the state per month. There are just as many, if not significantly more, happening on tribal land. If it wasn’t for the mid-sized & B-level national boxing events coming to California, revenue for CSAC would be completely dry. The MMA landscape for regulated shows on a large level in California is rapidly declining.

So, you would think that DCA would make sure that relations with promoters would be better in order to create a less-stressful environment to run shows in California. … And you would be wrong about that. Ever since promoters stood up to DCA on June 26th in their termination hearing for George Dodd as Executive Director of CSAC, DCA has lashed back and played some political games. First, there was the ambush June 30th 9 AM meeting in Sacramento with less than 16 hours notice to the public. That meeting was never legally classified as an emergency meeting despite DCA claiming that it was. Second, DCA was scheduled to have a stakeholders meeting with promoters in mid-July. It just so happened that regular promoters in the state didn’t know such a meeting was going to happen. Turns out, DCA isn’t so bothered about notifying promoters or the public about it, either.

On Thursday at 4 PM PST, CSAC posted the agenda notification for a Sunday 9 AM conference call for promoters. You read that right. DCA is having a 9 AM Sunday date for a promoters meeting. Most promoters who are busy with events are spending all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night conducting business. Telling them that they can attend a meeting at 9 AM on a Sunday morning is absurd. Not only that, the number given in the agenda (605-715-4920) is a South Dakota teleconference number. What, no 800 or 877 number for promoters?

You don’t have to be a genius to sense that placing a stakeholders meeting for promoters at 9 AM on a Sunday is DCA’s way of not showing good faith in actually having an exchange of ideas & information with promoters. It’s a show of hostility by Sacramento. In talking with promoters about this Sunday 9 AM call, not one person I spoke with even knew about the meeting or the information… which is kind of the point of DCA’s behavior here.

On top of that, take a look at the footer of the Sunday 9 AM meeting agenda document:

They used the standard 10-day advance notice code for those with disabilities who want to attend a meeting…

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 11 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

11 Responses to “Horrible atmosphere at CSAC. strained promoter relations”

  1. J-Rock says:

    who can really stand up to the CSAC and demand more inspectors? Maybe Zuffa can!

    • Zach Arnold says:

      UFC/Zuffa already have Marc Ratner, Burt Watson, and Randy Sulcer who can help coordinate events and essentially help out a commission if need be.

      The bigger issue is on the independent shows. The train wreck is coming soon with the reduced staffing. DCA is asking for trouble.

  2. Steve says:

    Kudos for a very informative expose’.
    Please keep at it.

  3. Jason Harris says:

    “At the Wednesday show, numerous officials from DCA were on hand with top CSAC officials (George Dodd, Sarah Waklee, Che Guevara)”

    ….Che Guevara?

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