Welcome to New York City?

Written by Tom Ngo
November 11th, 2008

The UFC has been trying to get the world’s fastest growing sport regulated in the world’s largest market for years. On Wednesday, they will be making their second plea to New York legislators, regulators and promoters in an attempt to have them overturn their initial ruling last June. New York is one of eight remaining states whose athletic commission refuses to regulate Mixed Martial Arts. New York banned the sport in 1997.

New York Assemblyman Steven Englebright will assist Marc Ratner, vice president of regulatory affairs for the UFC, present a case study conducted by the economic development consulting firm HR & A. The UFC requested their assistance to conduct the study immediately following the bill’s rejection in June.

Ratner is the former executive director for Nevada State Athletic Commission, a post that he held for 14 years. Englebright has been a major ally for MMA, particularly the UFC, in its attempt to once again promote in the Empire State.

Ratner initially presented the results of the study on a conference call to members of the press yesterday. In times of economic uncertainty, the UFC plans to hit members of the State Assembly’s Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development Committee with financial numbers that will blow their minds.

The HR & A study focused on putting on MMA events in two key New York locations, Buffalo and New York City.  An event held at The HSBC Arena in Buffalo would accommodate up to 19,200 fans, which could generate $5.2 million in economic activity and produce $350,000 in tax revenues for the state of New York.

An MMA event at Madison Square Garden, the crown jewel of New York City, could hold up to 20,000 fans, generating an astonishing $11.3 million in economic activity and $917,000 in tax revenues for the state.

“We want to get the sport of mixed martial arts regulated in the state of New York as soon as possible and this is just one step in that process to convince legislators that what, in particular, the UFC brings to the state of New York will be a very positive thing when it comes to economics,” stated UFC representative Lawrence Epstein. “In the context with what’s going on in New York and the rest of the country, I think it’s even more compelling.”

Tomorrow’s proceedings will be the first step in a very long journey for the UFC. If the re-introduced bill gets passed by the committee, it would then be presented to the entire Assembly for a vote. A companion bill would have to begin a similar two-vote process through the Senate.

If both bills were to pass, the amendment bill would be presented to New York’s Governor for passage. It is at that point that the NYSAC would put a system in place to oversee the sport.

The process could take months, however with the financial ramifications involved for New York, and the unparalleled exposure for the UFC, it is certainly worth it.

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