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Politics

Moncton councillors at odds over upcoming UFC event

Councillor Paul Pellerin says taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook to bring events to the new downtown venue.
Councillor Paul Pellerin says taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook to bring events to the new downtown venue. Callum Smith/Global News

With less than a month to go until UFC Fight Night makes its way to Moncton, a city councillor says the onus shouldn’t be on the taxpayers to attract events to the new downtown venue.

At a council meeting Monday night, councillors voted to contribute $100,000 from the city and $50,000 from Events Moncton, which is an arm’s length committee tasked with bringing major events to the city.

The total cost of the bid package is $250,000, according to Avenir Centre general manager Nick DeLuco. SMG Canada, which operates the facility, is expected to pay the remaining $100,000, according to Coun. Paul Pellerin.

“That was the whole premise of the (Avenir Centre),” says Pellerin. “We would build it, someone would be operating, and they would be drawing in the events.”

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Greg Turner, who chairs Events Moncton, says it will be good to receive national and international attention from the televised event.

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“There’s a lot of publicity to gain,” he says. “Not only for our centre, but for our city.”

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Greg Turner, who chairs Events Moncton, says it makes sense to support an event of this magnitude, which will have an international audience
Greg Turner, who chairs Events Moncton, says it makes sense to support an event of this magnitude, which will have an international audience Callum Smith/Global News

Meanwhile, Pellerin, who questions why the city is contributing to the event, says taxpayers need to be aware.

“We’re basically, in my opinion, picking and choosing certain events.”

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UFC star Conor McGregor sentenced to community service after New York City melee
UFC star Conor McGregor sentenced to community service after New York City melee

DeLuco says they’re always working with city officials to determine what events make sense for both the facility and the venue.

“This is bigger than just a facility event; this is a regional event, this is a city event,” he says. “It’s something they have to see the benefit in as well, so that comes into play when we’re looking at bid fees for events.

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The city says events like this generally gain at least $3 million in “economic activity.”

READ MORE: A look inside Moncton’s $113-million event centre