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Little people....big storyPosted Wednesday, October 13, 2010, at 5:39 PM
A midget wrestling act scheduled to perform at The Pink Galleon Thursday quickly became my most-read story of the week when we learned there were state athletic regulations that applied to what many consider an entertainment event.
My story was also picked up by the Associated Press and was used by several other media outlets including The Washington Post.
Below is a statement sent to me by the owner of The Pink Galleon, Chris Seib explaining his failed attempt to bring the Extreme Midget Wrestling Federation to Cape Girardeau.
The performance by the EXTREME MIDGET WRESTLING FEDERATION scheduled for Thursday Oct. 14 at the Pink Galleon has been canceled.
The reason for this cancellation is that the Midget Wrestling Tour has been banned by the states of Missouri, Kentucky and Nebraska due to their unwillingness to conform to the regulations of the state's Department of Athletics.
These regulations, at least in Missouri, require that all wrestlers be licensed by the state, all wrestlers must undergo blood testing and pay a minimal filing fee of $40.00 each. The State also requires that the Touring Company be associated with a licensed wrestling promoter and that a permit for each event be acquired at a nominal cost of $150.00 and that 5% of all ticket sales are to be paid to the State to help offset the costs of the State in the sanctioning of the event.
The Missouri Office of Athletics has on numerous occasions contacted the Tour's promoter and informed them of what steps that they need to take to legally perform their show in Missouri but to no avail. The tour has repeatedly attempted and or performed illegally in Missouri and has refused to cooperate with the Athletic Commission.
None of this was known by the Pink Galleon until it was too late to respond to the various issues. A timeline of events follows:
In June of 2010 my booking agent made me aware of a Midwest Tour being scheduled for Extreme Midget Wrestling. A contract was negotiated and executed on August 6th. Within the contract the act was described as "not a professional wrestling company" but as a "midget wrestling show that specializes in comedy acts, pranks, and dance routines. ". It sounded to us like a fun event and we never ever thought that it would be regulated by the Missouri Office Of Athletics. It was presented to us as a comedy show (which is what it really is) not as an athletic event .
Nowhere was it indicated either in the contract or at any point in our negotiations with the tour's promoter that permits and or licenses were required although the tour promoter was surely aware of the State's rules and procedures.
Our primary requirement within the contract was to handle the promotion of the event which we did by setting up on-line ticket sales, printing and distributing 5,000 flyers, and purchasing radio and newspaper advertisement.
The first signal that there were any issues with the event surfaced this past Friday Oct.8 when we hosted the Weigh In for the Mixed Martial Arts exhibition that occurred at the ShowMe Center on Saturday. A representative for the Missouri Office Of Athletics arrived at about 4pm to set up for the weigh in of the fighters. He of course saw our banners promoting the midget wrestling for the next week. At that time he informed me that his department had been having ongoing problems with that organization and that the planned event fell under his department purview.
I immediately contacted my booking agent who contacted the tour promoter who assured us that he was working with a wrestling promoter that was licensed by Missouri and that everything had been taken care of for the following week's event. This turned out to be completely false.
Early Monday (Columbus Day Holiday) my booking agent attempted to contact all parties involved to ensure that there was no issues that would prevent the event from occurring but received no response until Tuesday morning. I contacted a Mr. Tim Lueckenhoff the Executive Director of the Missouri Office of Athletics who described to me his past dealings with this particular tours' promoter. Mr. Lueckenhoff was extremely polite, professional and outlined to me the steps that would need to be taken in order to salvage the event. He assured me that the department would do anything that they could to assist a Missouri small businessman but that his past dealings with the tours' promoter did not make him confident that they would cooperate in complying with the regulations of the State of Missouri. Unfortunately Mr. Lueckenhoff turned out to be correct and given the tour promoters lack of cooperation and the extremely short timeframe that we now had to deal with there was nothing that his office could do to assist us in saving the event.
To sum things up, it is my opinion, that the tours' promoter was fully aware of the State requirements but never had any intention of complying with them. His intent was to come to Cape Girardeau and knowingly conduct a one- night, illegal event and skip town without the State ever being aware that they were here. It was only the fact that we happened to host the Weigh In last week that prevented him from following through on his plans.
The victims in this scenario are, of course, The Pink Galleon and our customers. We have now lost all of the dollars spent on the promotion of the event as well as the loss of the revenue that the event would have provided. Tickets sales were very good and we had looked forward to a highly successful night and a really unusual and fun event for our customers. Those customers that have purchased tickets can return them to our Cape Town Plaza facility for a full refund and our sincerest apologies for their inconvenience. We ask that our customer please believe us when we say that we were absolutely 100% unaware of the need for any interaction with the State with regard to the event and that we did everything in our power, including offering to cover all costs associated with the licensing of the midget wrestlers and any and all permit fees, taxes or any other costs in order to not cancel the event. Had we know of these issues even 2 weeks ago I am sure that the state would have worked with us although I feel far less confident in the tours' promoter.
Chris Seib - Pink Galleon
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Melissa Miller is business editor at The Southeast Missourian. A graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School, she's worked as a reporter, photographer, editor and as the executive director of two not-for-profit organizations. After living in Michigan and then Indiana, she moved back to her hometown of Jackson, Mo. In addition to writing daily stories for The Southeast Missourian, Melissa coordinates editorial content each month for Business Today. Business Today is a monthly publication for southeast Missouri's business community. Monthly themes include health care, agriculture, women in business, technology and more. Business Today is direct mailed to business owner and managers throughout southeast Missouri and southern Illinois. Follow her updates on local business developments at www.twitter.com/semissourianbiz or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MelissaMillerSoutheastMissourian