(MSG: You don’t know excitement until you hear 20,000 Long Island accents howling in unison. Photo courtesy of OneLouderNYC.com.)
Though a previous UFC-led effort to legalize mixed martial arts in New York State fell apart last year, the cause is not lost. A legislative session will re-address the issue tomorrow in Albany, which could lead to MMA being placed under the regulation of the New York State Athletic Commission, and open the doors for a historic fall UFC show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. And why might the current push for NY legalization be more successful than the last one? For one thing, New York State now has an Athletic Commission chairperson who’s sympathetic to the sport. Also, the state’s economy is in the crapper and they need every dollar they can get. As ESPN writes:
[Governor David] Paterson is cutting programs and paychecks to address a $15 billion deficit in the state budget, and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered $1.4 billion in budget cuts last month. Ignoring the income MMA and the UFC could bring to the state and city would seem fiscally irresponsible.
"At a time when the New York economy is in crisis, it would be a mistake for the state to miss out on the considerable revenue that our events would generate," said Marc Ratner, a UFC vice president for Government and Regulatory Affairs. "We are eager to bring both the excitement of our new sport as well as its major tax and tourist revenue to New York State."
An independent economic impact study commissioned by the UFC showed that a UFC event would generate $11.5 million for New York City in tax and tourist revenue — which could be just the right amount of grease for the wheels to start turning. The bill (#S02858, FYI) will need to pass through New York’s House and Senate, then get a signature from Gov. Patterson. If all goes well, the UFC will hit Madison Square Garden in the fall, then Buffalo, then Albany.