Code violations at Irving Bazaar prompt lucha libre matches to move on

Published in The Dallas Morning News on Dec. 4, 2015

For fans of the Mexican style of wrestling known as lucha libre, there’s one less venue available.

Irving Bazaar removed its wrestling ring in mid-October after a small electrical fire broke out on Sept. 30, prompting a fire code inspection.

Ricardo Cardenas, who formerly promoted the shows at the bazaar, said removing the ring was a blow to the Latino community. But he’s promoting monthly matches at Malone’s Bazaar in Dallas and looking for a new Irving venue.

For the past 18 years, Irving Bazaar has had its difficulties. The venue had been on an upswing, thanks to lucha libre matches — from local talent or renowned luchadores from Mexico like El Hijo de Dr. Wagner Jr.

“It feels bad because we’ve been there for quite a long time,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of calls from people who don’t know what to do on their Saturdays anymore. We were all so used to just going to the matches every week.”

Irving fire marshal Derek Austin said nobody was injured during the fire. But during the subsequent inspection, the department identified roughly 300 code violations, he said.

The ring had to be removed because it was an illegal use of the building, Austin said. The bazaar is classified as merchant facility to sell product. To have the wrestling matches legally, the building would require an assembly code designation.

“The building does not meet the code requirements for assembly purposes,” Austin said. “[To hold the wrestling matches], they would have to make changes and reapply and pass the assembly occupancy code inspection.”

Austin said that the department didn’t issue any fines after the inspection and the bazaar addressed immediate dangers.

“We work with the businesses in a reasonable time limit,” Austin said. “It’s not our goal to run businesses out of town and we’re still working out the minor violations.”

Brenda Soto, a spokesperson for the Bazaar, said the company working with the fire department to address the violations and make changes.

“We’re still recovering from the after effects of this fire and are trying to bring in other entertainment alternatives for our customers,” she said. “We are working on bringing back music and hosting other entertainment like mariachi’s and face painting in one of our event rooms that we plan to open to the public soon.”

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