Hoppers consider hosting cage fight

NORTH Albury Football-Netball Club will meet tonight to consider hosting cage fighting at its home ground, Bunton Park, on May 17.

Hoppers’ president Mark Cronin has distanced his club from suggestions it had entered into a deal with Australian Fighting Championships promoters, who claimed they had in-principle agreement for a 50-50 split of proceeds.

Club representatives who met with AFC chief executive officer Adam Milankovic yesterday will report back on whether the Hoppers wanted to explore the option of hosting the event, with a final decision still days away.

“I would have thought before any agreement is reached we would want to see a written contract and find out about council approvals and so forth,” Mr Cronin said.

“There is a lot of water to go under the bridge before any agreement is reached.

“You’ve also got to think about the in-principle nature of the event.”

Mr Milankovic was confident he had a deal with the Hoppers after being knocked back on the use of Lauren Jackson Sports Centre and a former hardware building in Lavington.

He said he considered dumping Albury from his schedule and heading to Wagga before speaking with the Hoppers.

“We’ve been in discussions with these guys for some time,” he said.

“We tried to get the old Mitre 10 building, but it is important to have local support behind you.”

The organisers propose to erect a tent at Bunton Park of similar dimensions to one used for the Powderfinger rock concert at Albury Sportsground in 2010.

It will hold 3500 people with tickets ranging from $75 general admission to $160 ringside.

Unlike Powderfinger, the cage fighting event will be held in the first half of the season when the Hoppers play away.

A general bye the following weekend will allow the ground to recover.

Mr Milankovic said the tent could take a week to set up, which would force the Hoppers to find an alternate training venue.

Having the event at Bunton Park would avoid a development application from Albury Council, but approval would be required for the tent.

Mr Milankovic said cage fighting remained misunderstood.

“It is an extreme sport like any other,” he said.

“We just try to make it safer than what it is and put these guys in a better working environment.”

One of the most vocal critics of cage fighting, Cr David Thurley, said the council was powerless to stop the event.

“They run a sports club with bowls, football and juniors,” he said.

“How does something like this sit with that?”

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