License Agreements can be one of the more bureaucratic parts of a City Council meeting, but at the Feb. 13 meeting, an agreement on the fees for the Alexandria Boxing Club held the future of one of the most prestigious sporting groups in Alexandria in jeopardy.
One of the major items of contention is a line in the license requiring participants in the boxing program who are not city residents but within the ages of 5-17 to pay a daily admission fee. During the City Council discussion, members of the council expressed concerns that charging admissions to non-resident children could be keeping Alexandria boxers away from sparring partners. The Alexandria Boxing Club has produced several national champions, often with support and practice from partners outside of Alexandria.
“I’m worried about the loss in opportunity for our participants to get quality interactions,” said Councilman John Chapman. “If we’re charging every visiting team who comes to play our groups, what’s our lost opportunity? I’d love to know that from staff, if we have it, what’s the money we’re making off these visiting participants? I want to know what we’re gaining vs what we’re losing in terms of visiting teams. For our boxing clubs, that’s a cause for concern. They’re there to benefit our kids, and I want us to look at it that way. We need to take a different swing at how that is put together.”
Staff answered that, in the past, sparring partners have not been charged to use the facility, but that the language in the license would be reconsidered to address that before the item came back again for public hearing.
Mayor Allison Silberberg noted that Dara Shen, manager for operations at the Alexandria Boxing Club, was sitting in the audience and asked her to come forward to express her insight on the topic.
“While $10 fee for non-residents seems nominal, it can be a considerable obstacle for people coming to face us,” said Shen. “I understand where it comes from, I understand need to generate revenue .... When we look at something as simple as a fee for sparring partners, which is unheard of in the boxing world, I’d hope that the City Council can take into consideration the work we do, history with the Alexandria Boxing Club, and grant us maybe an exception or maybe look into not needing to charge visiting sparring for fees.”