A planned UFC show set for June in Vancouver is on the ropes, apparently due to insurance and other issues.
A source told The Canadian Press that the show has been called off and the mixed martial arts promoter is looking at Cincinnati as a possible replacement city.
The UFC has not officially announced the Vancouver card, other than to say that it planned to go there in June. The show had been pegged for June 12 at GM Place.
UFC president Dana White said he could not comment on any issues affecting Vancouver. But a second source said the two sides had yet to resolve insurance and other indemnification matters.
Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang said while the city has not yet confirmed the cancellation of the show, he assumes it is going to Cincinnati.
"It's disappointing but not really surprising given the hurdles we had to cross over with issues of liability and insurance," Jang said.
"This would not be a problem if province would have just done what Quebec does, indemnify the city. They've not done that yet, they pass it back to us, and if people want UFC in Vancouver they better go talk to the province about what Quebec does."
While the UFC has convinced more than 40 U.S. states to create or amend legislation sanctioning the sport, the situation in Canada is far murkier.
The Criminal Code offers an exemption of sorts to boxing but not mixed martial arts and that apparently is the sticking point in Vancouver, where the city wants adequate protection in terms of insurance.
Across the country, there is a hodgepodge of provinces and jurisdictions that permit the sport. Vancouver was one of them until city council withdrew its support while the matter was studied further.
In December, Vancouver city councillors voted 6-3 to approve a two-year trial period for MMA, opening the door for a UFC show that could generate millions for the local economy.
But under the pilot program, promoters must ensure the city can't be held liable for damages.
"In short, insurance companies wouldn't insure the event given that it's technically not legal in Canada and that the province doesn't indemnify the city as they do in Quebec," Jang said.
"I guess it's the insurance companies who had some discomfort, not council .... and really their discomfort comes from the lack of legal framework that exists in other provinces and states that we don't have. So the city would be taking 100 per cent of the risk."
Mark Pavelich, head of Edmonton-based promoter Maximum Fighting Championship, said at the time of the UFC Vancouver announcement that insurance costs could be a problem.
Pavelich called Vancouver authorities after the December vote to try to apply to hold a show.
"They didn't give me the exact sum but the impression, the sense, the way they were speaking, was that it's going to be a significant amount of insurance, way more than any of us pay anywhere else and the premiums would be gigantic," Pavelich said Monday.
"They basically made that very clear to me."
The UFC has already held two successful shows in Montreal and is pressing to have Ontario sanction the sport.
Cincinnati served as host to UFC 77 in October 2007.