Lorenzo Fertitta has big plans for New York. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Once again, mixed martial arts is on the brink of legalization in New York.
If the dream does indeed become reality, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta has big plans in store for the Empire State.
On Thursday, Fertitta praised the Business Council of New York State for issuing a ”memo in support” of a bill to legalize MMA. According to the memo, “legalizing professional MMA will generate up to 950 jobs and $135 million in annual economic activity across the state of New York.”
“I want to thank the leadership of the Business Council for recognizing that legalizing MMA in New York – the last place in North America where professional MMA is illegal – would provide a new economic boost to New York,” Fertitta said in a release. “As the Business Council recognizes in its memo, legalizing and regulating MMA in New York ‘will bring much needed economic activity to New York’s sports and entertainment venues, hospitality industry and generate additional revenues for the state and local governments.’”
The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Joe Griffo and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, was recently approved by the state’s Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation by a 4-2 vote. Griffo predicted that the bill would pass easily through the state Senate, as it has in the past. The real obstacle is the New York Assembly, which has repeatedly thwarted legislation attempting to legalize MMA.
There is hope even there, however. Former speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, who was a key opponent of the sport, was recently arrested on corruption charges. With Silver gone, there is reason for optimism within Zuffa and the UFC.
If things continue to progress, Fertitta promises an influx of events in the state.
We are prepared to launch the most intense and epic series of major events over the next three years that the Empire State has ever seen,” Fertitta said. “If New York legalizes and properly regulates MMA in 2015, the UFC will hold a minimum of four events per year for the next three years.
“Yes, we will hold events in New York City -- our fighters and our fans have been clamoring for the Garden and the new Barclays Center -- but we are also looking forward to hosting at least three events annually in Upstate cities, where we will smash local box office records and bring in fans from Canada and states throughout the northeast.”