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Ralston Arena upset by VFC move to Baxter Arena

Posted at 10:54 PM, Nov 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-23 23:54:56-05

A mixed martial arts organization is moving events from one metro arena to another.

Victory Fighting Championship, or VFC, held an open house Monday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Baxter Arena, previewing plans for next year.

This comes after three years of holding a total of eight events at Ralston Arena, according to the facility’s general manager, Stan Benis.

Ralston Arena issued the following statement Monday:

"We were taken aback at the news that Victory Fighting Championship (VFC) has decided to leave the Ralston Arena.  Ralston Arena has provided a home for VFC since 2012.  The eight (8) events held during that time have been well attended and profitable for both VFC and Ralston Arena.  Furthermore, the decision to move to the Baxter Arena while still under contract with the Ralston Arena through 2016 is very disconcerting.

The Ralston Arena has had continued success with our major tenants, including the Omaha Lancers, Omaha Beef, Omaha Heart and Huffman Productions.   The Ralston Arena brand and financial position is stronger than ever.

The fact remains that VFC and Baxter Arena negotiated their agreement to the detriment of the Ralston Arena. We understand competition for the arena dollar and welcome the challenge presented by the numerous entertainment venues.  However, we will not be undermined by unfair competition."

VFC owner Ryan Stoddard says this move was all about growing his business. "We needed to find an option to accommodate us for our growth and Baxter Arena was that option".

This move is another gut punch for Ralston Arena, expecting to have those upcoming events and money coming in.

"You set a budget, and you kind of count on those things happening because you have to sign a contract with them and all of a sudden you don't have that contract," said Ralston Arena General Manager Stan Benis.

The Ralston Arena is operating at a loss of over 40-million dollars in debt. Benis says he's not happy with how VFC is leaving for the brand new arena down the street with Baxter poaching their current tenant.

"You would hope that as general managers of buildings that we are not going behind each other's back and trying to talk to someone you know is under contract,' said Benis.

Something Baxter Arena General Manager Mike Cera said didn't happen. He said VFC reached out to the arena a year ago. "We're certainly not focused on going out and trying to take business or pouch business from anybody else, however whenever we're approached about something for a variety of reasons...we're certainly going to listen."

Benis said there was one more event scheduled this year with VFC and 3 others in 2016. Each show about 10-20 thousand dollars in profit for the arena.

"We at this turn will probably have to sue VFC to get our money back and go to court and the whole nine yards, it would have been a lot simpler if he had just stopped by and say hey here's what we are going to do," said Benis.

Stoddard said he's unaware of any money needing to be returned to the Ralston Arena but would go over any bills with his lawyer.

The first fight in the Baxter Arena is on January 29th.