By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
The Liberal Top Team Mixed Martial Arts Club is looking to host a sanctioned event on Oct. 16.
Club coordinator Dairo Beltran came to the Seward County Commission Monday to get the board’s permission to host the event at the Activity Center.
Beltran said the club is trying to get some MMA fights in town to promote business in the community, to bring in additional revenue and pay more taxes.
“I was just trying to get an OK to have this done in the Activity Center,” he said. “It’s sanctioned by the state with rules and regulations that the state of Kansas has. We’re trying to do everything as legal as possible – and safe.”
Beltran said his club would like to have a few events per year.
“That would bring revenue to the county and the city and to all the businesses.”
Beltran said he will be applying to the state of Kansas for a temporary license to sell alcohol at the event.
“A lot of the people who go to these fights like to drink,” he said. “We’re just selling 3.2 beer or even keg beer. People demand it. It’s part of the show.”
Commissioner C.J. Wettstein noted problems the county has had in the past with selling beer at similar events.
“We run into this a lot,” he said. “They say we’re going to have a beer garden over here. Then the promoter decides we need to have a beer garden all the way around the arena. That’s where we have a problem.”
Beltran said he wants to make sure the Activity Center is a safe place during the fights.
“There’ll be a concession stand, and there’s going to be people all over,” he said. “We’re going to have the cops. I’m going to have separate security.”
County clerk Stacia Long said the county is no longer in charge of issuing licenses, and the state requires that a promoter draw a map of the facility and designate a “tied off” area where they will sell alcohol.
“From there, you are issued a temporary license,” she said. “The question in my mind is who does the enforcement of that because the state of Kansas issues the license not the county. Does law enforcement know what the laws are, and is law enforcement suppose to make sure that they are staying within those ropes? The state of Kansas, or (the Alcoholic Beverage Commission), to me, are the enforcers.”
County counsel Dan Diepenbrock disagreed saying it is a county resolution that requires a beer garden, and therefore, it is up to the county to enforce it.
“The state of Kansas would be happy with an entire map of the Event Center, but our own resolution requires the restricted area,” he said.
Many people, including commission chairman Joyce Hibler, said beer gardens were not enforced during the recent Seward County Five State Fair. Activity Center Director Linda Johnson said a designated area was made for events during the fair.
“Whether the officers are suppose to enforce that, I don’t know,” she said. “If the officers cannot do that or that’s not their responsibility, this gentleman needs to hire security and make sure that stays where it needs to.”
Long said the resolution Diepenbrock was talking about was passed when the county was still issuing malt beverage licenses.
“The county no longer issues those licenses,” she said. “They’re issued by the state, so when are they turning in their maps to the county and when are the commissioners approving it or disapproving it?”
Diepenbrock said even though the state issues the license, the commission can still restrict where alcohol is consumed.
County administrator Mary Bloomer pointed out that only the sheriff’s department can provide security on county grounds.
“They cannot provide private security,” she said.
Wettstein said he has noticed that even though there are regulations regarding alcohol at events, they are not always followed.
“That’s what aggravates me,” he said.
Long said security is hired by the event planner, not the county.
“It’s not on the county’s bill on the security,” she said. “It is up to the event planner to make sure that their hired security is doing their job.”
Beltran will return to the commission at its meeting on Sept. 7 with a map of the Activity Center designating the beer garden area.
The commission did not approve or disapprove his request but decided to revisit the issue at the Sept. 7 meeting.