The L.A. Derby Dolls says its future bouts are in danger of being canceled until it can raise the money needed to bring its “Dolloseum” venue in Los Angeles up to code.
A temporary special events permit is needed for each public event the women’s roller derby league holds, and the permit for the Derby Dolls’ first scheduled match of the year Jan. 7 was unexpectedly denied. That came as a shock since the same permit has been issued for each of the league’s previous events for more than a year prior to that.
The Jan. 7 cancellation and subsequent ones have come as the result of a new policy by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety in the wake of the deadly Dec. 2 Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland that left 36 people dead. Under the new policy, the department is withholding all temporary special events permits from warehouses. The Dolloseum is considered a warehouse.
The Derby Dolls launched a GoFundMe page last month to solicit donations to help pay for a change of use/variance permit from the city of Los Angeles that is costly, time-consuming and well beyond the league’s budget. The all-volunteer, nonprofit organization needs to raise $27,300 to pay for a city filing and design fee and another $16,805 to cover January operating expenses while it works towards repermitting its venue at 4900 Alhambra Ave.
An additional $75,000 also is being sought to pay for construction, architecture and engineering services needed for the expansion of a restroom and the construction of risers in addition to other work related to building and safety compliance.
All told, the organization is looking to raise nearly $120,000 through its “Keep the Derby Dolls Rolling in LA” GoFundMe page. By midafternoon Monday the effort had generated more than $38,000 in donations from 552 people.
Pebbles Sprintstone, who donated $50 on Monday, wasn’t happy to learn of the league’s dilemma.
“Breaks my heart that you are having to go through this,” she wrote. “I’ll do my best to continue to spread the word.”
Judy Jordan, who contributed $100, said she’s hoping to see the league back in action.
“Good luck, you guys!” she wrote. “Hoping to make it to events soon!”
The Derby Dolls typically host two events a month to cover the league’s day-to-day operating expenses. But without a permit that’s not happening.
“If we cannot obtain permits to hold our bouts, we will very quickly be in serious financial trouble,” the organization said on its crowd-funding page.
Representatives with Derby Dolls declined to be interviewed Monday although the league released a statement addressing the issue.
“Our building is up to code, however we are currently in the process of a change of use for our building,” the organization said. “During this time, we are unable obtain permits to hold public games. Like all sports leagues, public events are essential to the financial health of the organization. As a nonprofit, to help bridge the financial gap, we have been planning one-off fundraising events like the ‘Whip It’ screening we held yesterday.”
Nurturing environment for women
Founded in 2003 by Rebecca Ninburg (aka Demolicious) and Wendy Templeton (aka Thora Zeen), the Derby Dolls is a league of more than 150 adult and junior skaters and volunteers divided into teams who skate on a banked track.
The league is designed to be a sports outlet for both women and juniors, as well as a nurturing environment.
“The pro-women attitude is galvanized by the Derby Dolls’ focus on issues of women’s empowerment, body positivity and inclusivity,” the group’s GoFundMe page said. “The result is a safe community where women support each other in their successes, encourage each other through their defeats and receive the same in return — whether on or off the track.”
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