Sk8town sues promoters of MMA event | Update
December 30, 2011 · Updated 8:49 AM
They took the money and skated.
That’s what the manager of Sk8Town alleges in a lawsuit filed against the promoters of an event that drew about 1,000 people for a night of mixed-martial arts fights at the South Kitsap skating rink earlier this month.
The lawsuit filed Dec. 7 in Kitsap County Superior Court says the promoters — Jennifer N. Manley and Carl J. Halliburton, whose business is called Revolution RepubliQ — took all the money from tickets sold at the door for the Dec. 3 event and have not repaid Sk8Town for expenses in staging the event, nor have they split the net proceeds with Sk8Town after expenses were covered, as the contract calls for.
Tickets for the all-ages MMA event, which was billed as “Liberation,” cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. There also were $45 tickets available for front-row seating and $75 tickets for a VIP lounge where alcohol was served.
Staff hired by the promoters collected tickets and admission payments the night of the event, and Sk8Town manager and co-owner Mark Baker said in a statement filed with the lawsuit that “there were over 1,000 attendees at the event.”
Cash from ticket sales at the door was deposited into a safe that had a combination known only to Manley and Halliburton, according to Baker’s statement. He also said that after the event was over, a witness saw Manley take the cash out of the safe before she and Halliburton drove off, returning to Sk8Town about 25 minutes later.
Baker estimated there was $18,000 to $20,000 in the safe from approximately 1,000 admission fees. But when the promoters returned, he states in the court filing, they told him there was only $3,000 in the safe from admission receipts.
They also told Baker, according to the lawsuit, that Sk8Town’s initial deposit of $3,500 paid to the promoters for expenses would not be returned, nor would additional costs be covered that Sk8Town incurred in providing catering, liquor service, etc. There also was no money to divide as net profits from the event.
However, hundreds of advance tickets were sold online through Brown Paper Tickets, and Sk8Town’s lawsuit was filed with a request for an injunction against disbursing any funds from online ticket sales. That injunction was granted, and the lawsuit says Brown Paper Tickets confirmed that Manley — who also goes by the names Jennifer Akopian and Jenn Vintage — had set up at least three accounts in different names for depositing proceeds from online ticket sales.
Co-promoter Jennifer Manley, who also goes by the name Jenn Akopian.
The lawsuit also alleges that the promoters:
• have not accounted for money they received from advance tickets sold by their associates, separate from online sales;
• gave away numerous free tickets, including VIP passes, before and at the event without the plaintiff’s consent;
• were responsible for providing security at the event, but that only two security staff were hired, requiring Sk8Town to pay for providing more security;
• did not provide a copy of a liability insurance policy they were required to secure covering the event and Sk8Town;
• are liable for damage to Sk8Town’s lighting, stereo speakers and other property.
Darlene Piper, a Port Orchard attorney and commercial real estate developer who also is co-owner of the Sk8Town property, is representing the business in the lawsuit.
In a rambling email sent to the Port Orchard Independent late Tuesday, the promoters said the allegations made against them in the Sk8Town lawsuit are false.
They claimed someone stole “a large sum of money” from the safe the night of the event. However, they did not file a police report.
They also said in the email they are “confident that the suit filed by Sk8Town will be dismissed nearly immediately when the evidence rolls forth.”
The two promoters also boasted that they “have an amazing track record with everything we have done” working with MMA fighters and events.
But others involved in MMA events around the region said they’ve had problems dealing with them.
Kurt Fichtner, owner of a Tacoma gym and MMA promotions company, said he’s dealt with Jenn Akopian in the past. Fighters from his gym competed in an MMA bout she promoted at the Mason County fairgrounds that involved “safety issues” with the fighters.
She also tried to get his company blackballed from the Tacoma MMA community, Fichtner said.
“She’s kind of shady. We stopped working with her,” he said. “It’s nothing illegal she’s done, it’s just a common-sense thing.”
Eddy Ellis, co-owner of United Training Center in Lacey, ended his dealings with Halliburton when a tentative partnership they formed went awry. Complications arose, Ellis said, when Halliburton overextended his reach when making promises to amateur fighters and other businesses.
“He’s like a used car salesman,” he said. “He tried to fill your head with words. Basically he’s a fast talker. I see that a lot in this business.”
Halliburton told the Port Orchard Independent in a Nov. 18 article that a portion of ticket sales from the Sk8town event would go to a nonprofit organization that helps underprivileged fighters, although no such contribution has been confirmed.
Reporter Brett Cihon contributed to this article.