A mixed martial arts show may be coming to Naperville this fall.
Roselle-based American Predator Fighting Championship is seeking the city's permission to hold an amateur event at Players Indoor Sports Center on Oct. 19.
"There's all kinds of MMA schools, martial arts schools, there's huge wrestling schools here … there are just great, great athletes, and that's really what it comes down to," said promoter and matchmaker Rich Seldal. "The athletes are showcasing their skills."
The show would be an amateur event featuring fighters competing for four title belts, Seldal said. He expects it would draw about 2,000 spectators. If all goes well, he would like to hold shows twice a year in Naperville. The group, which is owned in part by Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Keith Hackney, also has held events in Lemont, St. Charles and McCook.
Seldal called mixed martial arts "one of the fastest-growing sports" and said it is strictly regulated by the state.
"It's not like it's a fly-by-night two guys fighting at Billy's bar anymore," he said. "Those days are gone. … I think what we're doing in the MMA movement here is we're trying to show people they can have a night of entertainment."
The mixed martial arts event would not be the first in Naperville. An event organized by another group was held at the Holiday Inn Select in 2010.
Seldal made a presentation last week before the Naperville Liquor Commission, which mulled whether Players Indoor Sports' liquor license for recreational establishments allows liquor to be served at such an event.
Commissioner Scott Wehrli said the liquor license is meant to be for adults using the facility to play soccer or parents watching their children's sporting events.
"It was never proposed to us they were going to have expositions here or public performances, whether it be public sport performances or other types of performances where they would have a venue for alcohol to be served, so we have a specific distinction we have to think about here," he said.
But other commissioners said they didn't see the need to distinguish between types of recreational events. Ultimately the commission agreed to recommend to Mayor George Pradel that alcohol be allowed at the event. Pradel will have the final decision, but organizers also will need a special event permit from the City Council.
Jennifer Runestad, special events coordinator for the city, said city staff is just starting to evaluate the proposal and it could appear on a City Council agenda in September.