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MMA bill passes Senate, heads to Assembly … again

By TG Branfalt Jr.
Staff writer

Fighters square off in the octagon, the name for caged ring in UFC. For the fourth time, an MMA bill has passed the Senate and is sent to the Assembly. The bill would legalize MMA in the state which supporters say would bring much needed jobs and tax revenue to New York state. Photo by courtesy UFC.
March 11, 2013
For the fourth year in a row, a bill legalizing and regulating mixed martial arts in New York has passed the state Senate and will be sent to the Assembly, where, four years in a row, it has met its demise.

Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, sponsor of the bill (S.2755), released a statement following the passage in the Senate last week saying "official recognition of the sport in New York is long overdue."

"For five years I've been making the case that the numbers don't lie," Griffo said. "Bringing MMA events to New York state will have a tremendously positive impact through the jobs that can be created and the spending that will stimulate the economy."

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, the leader in the MMA industry, released an economic impact study by HR & A Advisors in 2008 outlining the positive economic impact the sport would have if legalized in New York.

Their study found that a UFC event held in New York City would generate $5.3 million in "direct event spending, $1.4 million in non-lodging visitor spending and $4.9 million in indirect spending" totaling $11.5 million in "net new economic activity." The study also said a UFC event requires more than 300 staff which equates to "88 full time local jobs per event," held in New York City which would inject "$4.2 million in compensation to the local economy."

Events held in Buffalo would create 57 full-time jobs which equates to $1.7 million in activity for the local economy. Buffalo would see another $1.7 million in direct event spending, $1.4 million in visitor spending and $2.1 million in indirect benefits.

In addition to the revenue the state would see from fees, according to the bill, New York would receive 8.5 percent of gross ticket receipts, which is 5.5 percent more than the 3 percent the state receives from boxing events and 3 percent of the gross receipts from broadcasting rights.

UFC President Dana White has said publicly he would like to showcase Anderson Silva versus Jon Jones at Madison Square Garden. Silva versus Jones is regarded in MMA circles as a super fight and would, without question, sell out MSG and likely break UFC Pay-Per-View records.

The 47 'aye' votes in the Senate mark the largest margin by which an MMA bill has passed that house, though MMA has still not shaken the label of "human cockfighting" with some.

Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhatten, who sits on the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee with Griffo, said he was "dismayed" and "saddened" by the passage of the bill.

"There are a multitude of arguments on why we as a legislative body should not sanction of glorify MMA's violence, especially the impact it would have on our children," Hoylman said in a statement following the floor vote, "MMA is only a few steps away from the gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome or Greece."

Hoylman voted 'aye, with reservation' in his committee vote on Feb, 28.

Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for UFC in New York, said "with all due respect" to Hoylman, arguments comparing MMA to human cockfighting are misinformed. He stressed that UFC welcomes competition oversight.

Greenberg is "optimistic that 2013 is the year" MMA becomes sanctioned in New York, noting that this passage is the earliest it has passed in session to date.

"You're looking at 47 out of 62 votes, better than three-fourths of the senators voted for it," Greenberg said, "That's a pretty overwhelming majority."

Greenberg also said UFC would "love" to celebrate their twentieth anniversary in November at MSG in New York City, though he would not comment on what fights might be featured at the event.

"[The UFC] would put on one of the best shows they have ever done, to celebrate their twentieth anniversary and their first card of fights in New York," Greenberg said.

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