Mixed Martial Arts Legislation in NY Would Spur New Economic Activity
By Alexia Krause
With the New York state deficit hitting $8 billion, steps need to be taken in order to right the ship that is the state’s budget. Recently New York Gov. David Paterson stated that the projected deficit for the upcoming fiscal year has grown by an additional $750 million. There’s no doubting that the Empire State is in dire straits trying to fix their deficit. It is extremely difficult trying to balance a state budget at a time when the country as a whole is going through some of its most difficult economic hurdles in recent history. This forces us to take a fresh look at which programs will continue to receive funding. As a result, the state has been forced to cut, reject, and outright shut down many state programs and projects in order to make some type of movement out of the red and back into the black. Many of these budget cuts (like closing down state parks and cutting funding to public schools) were rampant and have cast an unfavorable light on politicians in Albany in the eyes of many New Yorkers. However, something must be done in order to fight the ailing state economy. As coincidence has it, a good fight might just be the answer to the budget problems.
On June 16th, the New York State Senate passed a bill to legalize MMA in the state in an effort to help amend the state’s financial problems. Opening the floodgates for MMA in New York would be more of a benefit to the state than it would to the MMA Industry. For years, promoters have happily held venues in nearby New Jersey. Mixed martial arts competitions like UFC, among others, have been banned in the state because many lawmakers felt it was too brutal of a sport (even though other legal sports like football and hockey can be just as- if not more- brutal). With the passing of this new bill, fans will finally be able to support their home state and local venues. MMA events would potentially have access to one of the most active metropolises in the world- New York City. There are dozens of great venues surrounding the state who have been capitalizing on this opportunity for years. At the UFC’s most recent event held in New Jersey, there were more New York residents in attendance than NJ natives. Fortunately state legislators have finally come to the realization that legalizing MMA will open access to a new revenue stream that it gravely needs.
By welcoming MMA in the state, as much as $11 million in economic activity could be generated for each event held. This activity ranges from salaries paid to venue workers, to an increased interest in martial arts training academies and dojos, and to tourism dollars spent in the surrounding area. At every step of the way, tax revenue is generated. Governor Paterson expects over $2 million generated annually if the bill is passed. The MMA organization UFC (who would play a large role in scheduling events in the state) is broadcasted in over 170 countries, made $5.1 million in Pay-Per-View sales in 2007 alone, and averaged 30.6 million viewers in that same year. This is 3 years ago mind you; the figures projected for the next fiscal year are much higher. This type of outreach is bound to benefit the state and bring thousands to events, thus helping the economies of struggling New York state cities.
Holding events isn’t the only way that this bill will help bring money to the state of New York. In fact, the broad reach of allowing MMA to be legalized is something that will affect participants in the sport from top to bottom. For example, people who run mixed martial training gyms and programs will see a huge revenue generating boost in enrollment that will give many the chance to train and compete in their home state. This bill may even have the effect of preventing violence instead of causing it (which opponents of the bill argue) because it will allow many kids to go someplace safe after school. Studies have shown that when at-risk children are trained by mentors in a disciplined sport such as MMA, they are less likely to become involved in criminal or violent activities. This is one of the most important aspects of the bill from a human perspective, and one of the greatest reasons why this bill needs to be passed.
Every once in a while, a sport can transcend its origins and become a true cultural phenomenon. This is what MMA could be for the state of New York and that is precisely why this bill needs to be passed. The New York budget is going through one of its worst economic times ever, but by legalizing MMA, it can help to fight back against the deficit and make a difference in the lives of millions of New Yorkers.
Update: As of the morning of June 29th<
As of the morning of June 29th, 2010, the state assembly quashed the proposed bill which would legalize the sport. The efforts to block MMA in the state are led by a Mr. Bob Reilly, Assemblyman of the 109th district. You can read some of his stances in an interview conducted by Ben Fowlkes of cagepotato.com last year. If you visit that link, pay careful attention to his inconsistencies and question-dodging. This man claims to be a lifelong fan of boxing, but some of his comments in that interview are quite surprising.
Although this decision is a big setback for the industry, this is not the final word for the measure. New York is one of only 6 states which blindly ignore this sport. With your support, new revenue and jobs can be still be created.
Alexia is a lifelong fan of sports and fitness. Recently, she’s been smitten by Mixed Martial Arts. She is happy to be representing MMA Industries, and continues to bring you the latest news in the mixed martial arts world on everything from the most advanced MMA gear to the hottest MMA shirts.