UFC using tourist revenue to entice New York legislators

Madison Square Garden
When in doubt, buy 'em out.

UFC President Dana White has been lobbying to get the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) sanctioned in the state of New York -- as early as the end of 2008.

And why not?

Imagine BJ Penn vs. Georges St. Pierre 2 at Madison Square Garden (MSG).

A bill for sanctioning is already on the State Assembly's tourism, arts and sports education development committee's agenda and has been sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale).

But the UFC isn't being greedy. According to a report in the Times Herald-Record, locations like Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse and Utica are being discussed. MSG and New York City itself may not need the immediate business, but what about smaller, upstate markets that depend on (or could desperately use) tourist revenue?

Money talks ... and the UFC now has the numbers to back it up.

From the RecordOnline.com:

"Our events have brought millions of dollars in tax and tourist revenue to nearly every city we have held an event in," said UFC president Dana White. "Once New York joins New Jersey, Pennsylvania and 30 other states in regulating mixed martial arts, we will be thrilled to offer a UFC event this year to an upstate city and replicate its success all over the state."

The article also references the company's success from its recent event in Ohio, that brought a live gate of over $2 million and external revenue upwards of $11 million.

Not bad for a city budget that may need a way to wipe out some of its internal deficits. Financial pressure is also a good way to get staunch legislators to (begrudgingly) change their public tune.

"I'll support it, but it's not the high mark of our societal evolution," said Assemblyman Tom Kirwan, R-Newburgh. "It's brutal, but it's not as brutal as boxing. Two consenting adults are going in there to fight."

No question the UFC is shooting for an upstate location as a way of sneaking in the back door. Dana may have his eyes on the prize of MSG, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind holding a few pay-per-views upstate as a way to eventually get there.

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