August 15, 2008

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

Tijuana Bullfight Season Will Resume ... Maybe

The whole thing reads like a script for a soap opera. It’s a story filled with suspense, declarations, counter declarations, anger, and general hysteria, liberally spiced with innuendo, rumors, and ordinary gossip.

It started with the season opener and went downhill from there. Pepe López and Antonio Hurtado, who inherited the 23,500-capacity Plaza Monumental—dubbed “The Beautiful Bullring by the Sea”—from their late father, Major Salvador López Hurtado, announced that they would no longer lease their ring to Espectaculos Taurinos, the most powerful management team in Mexico.

“Fine,” responded E.T., “but, where are you going to get toreros? Anybody who performs in your plaza will not be contracted by any of the toreros who are contracted to us.”

In particular, E.T. would not contract José Mauricio, who was managed by Pepe López. That alliance was quickly dissolved.

Oh, there were plenty of legitimate reasons for the impasse. Pepe López claimed that it was the war being waged between competing drug cartels, an event that has resulted in a plethora of shootings and the presence of heavily armed members of the Mexican military.

The word on the street was that the United States government is building a new border crossing point, practically next door to the bullring, and that it would interfere with the construction of the crossing, according to Border Patrol officers. The first part of the story is true, but the second part is not.

The results are: As the downtown Plaza El Toreo has been torn down, putting more pressure on Plaza Monumental to the same fate. In effect, with the exception of a few smaller plazas that could easily accommodate corridas, a bustling border city of two million people would be without a major plaza de toros. California fans, particularly those from San Diego, could always be counted on to buy tickets to see corridas in a major plaza. And, the smaller plazas could not contract big name toreros, unless they priced the corridas way beyond that which the average ticket buyers could not, of would not, be able to afford.

In addition, there would be no cultural center in which concerts, boxing and wrestling matches, even motocross events, which have accounted for impressive attendance.

Naturally, not everybody is upset about the bullring debate, especially the anal retentive animal rightists, as it involves their favorite cause: La Fiesta Brava.

So, the present situation is as follows. There will be a bullfight, Aug. 31, in Plaza Monumental. Is this a test to determine if the plaza can profitably present bullfights? Could be, for the card to be offered—Ismael Gómez ‘Mayito”, César Castañeda and “Pepehillo” is a weak card. And, for that, the crowd may be small, but at least, it’s a bullfight.

This, according to published reports is the first of five afternoons that will be presented in Tijuana, in what’s left of this season.

Or, not. It is said that in Mexico, nothing ever happens until it does.

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