By Guest Columnist Brent Jacobs
The New York state budget has had a hard time fighting off a deficit throughout all of the overall economic problems that have plagued the country. This has caused the state to consider any and all ways to save money and help balance the budget, including closing down state parks and creating food and drink taxes on everyday products like soda. Some of these choices have been met with disdain from people of the state so the Senate continues to look for additional ways to raise money. The hopeful news is that they may have just found the perfect option that gives something back to New Yorkers rather than taking it away.
On June 16th, the New York State Senate passed a bill to legalize mix martial arts in the state of the New York. It still needs to be approved by the State Assembly in order to be a law, but passing the State Senate is a big deal for both the Empire State and Mixed Martial Arts. MMA, while being legal in many other states around the country, has been banned in New York since the mid-nineties which meant that prime venues like Madison Square Garden in New York City and the 50,000 seat Carrier Dome in Syracuse were off limits for holding MMA events. This would no longer be the case if the assembly passes the bill. Dozens of great venues in the state would be open to new events that would help grow the already popular sport of MMA even further while helping the state make money.
It’s hard to imagine that New York state education and other programs would be a direct beneficiary of MMA, but that would be the exact case if the bill passes. Mixed Martial Arts is one of the most popular sports in the country and its popularity grows with every passing day. This would mean that the dozens of sold out shows that MMA has every year would finally bring revenue to New York.
To put the financial benefits of legalizing MMA into perspective, just look at the numbers of the sport according to Fannation.com:
1 – $340. That was the average ticket price of UFC 81 at the MGM Grand. While this may seem like a lot, people are paying it to see their favorite matches. One could imagine the amount of tax money that would go to directly financing state programs and projects. Also a factor to consider is the amount of revenue brought in by people coming from all across the country for the events that would be spending money on food and accommodations.
2 – 170 countries broadcast UFC and other MMA events, which brings in huge promotion for some not as well known New York state cities that may hold an event.
3 – MMA industries like UFC have gone from million dollar companies to billion dollar companies in less than a decade showing just how popular this sport really can be.
These numbers don’t even account for New York based MMA gyms that will see new revenue to help train local fighters in a sport that was once outlawed in their home state. This will directly correlate with an increase in local sales of MMA gear, like MMA gloves. Hundreds of retailers will benefit from this boost. The increase in local fan-base will have a direct impact on the sale of MMA t-shirts that display their favorite fighter or industry brand. They have become a hot commodity as the sport has increased in popularity. There is no doubt that the reach of the bill, if passed, is not just huge for New York but is greatly important to its many citizens that are struggling because of the bad economy.
The state and Governor David Paterson have estimated that allowing the sport to be legalized would bring in an extra $2 million after two years for the state’s $8 billion deficit and studies have shown that holding an event in Madison Square Garden would generate $11.3 million in economic activity. This may not seem like a lot but it’s a step in the right direction for the state. This bill is something that New York has been trying to do for over the last two years but has failed in doing so. Even if the bill doesn’t pass the assembly, Governor Paterson has stated he will include it in his emergency extender bill giving it another way to be legalized. Yet, right now is the time for the passing of this bill because now MMA is closer than it’s ever been to being a popular and helpful force in the Empire State.