MMA in New York Still Possible for 2010

April 28, 2010

R.M. Schneiderman of Wall Street Journal reports that MMA in New York is still a possibility for 2010, but there are still a few hurdles for both the sport and its ride on the New York State Budget Proposal announced at the beginning of April.

Another, perhaps more ardent group of observers are asking a different sort of question, namely: When can we watch Georges St. Pierre put someone in a rear naked choke at Madison Square Garden?


The answer could be as soon as this fall. Yet each passing day without a budget agreement makes a mixed martial arts fight at The Garden increasingly unlikely in 2010.


Back in January, fans of mixed martial arts, aka MMA, cheered when Gov. Paterson included a provision in his budget proposal to legalize the sport, which has been banned in New York since the late 90s.


And in March, some 17,000 people showed up to an Ultimate Fighting Championship title bout in Newark. New Yorkers purchased more than 30% of the tickets, while New Jersey residents purchased just 22%, according to the UFC, the sport’s leading promoter. And roughly two thousand more New Yorkers attended a simulcast viewing party at Radio City Music Hall.


Unfortunately for MMA fans, the sport is still embroiled in the state’s budget wrangling. A provision to legalize MMA is currently in the state senate’s version of the budget bill, but not the state assembly’s, and it remains unclear how the process will unfold.


There are lots of twists and turns left,” said Jonathan Bing, a state assemblyman from New York’s 73rd district and a strong advocate for legalizing the sport.

Payout Perspective:

If you read the entire piece, those twists and turns include Bob Reilly’s attempts to thwart MMA’s legalization (not surprisingly), but also the simple fact that, even if the budget passes as is, the New York State Athletic Commission would still need a few months to establish a regulatory arm for MMA contests.

What I found most interesting about Schneiderman’s piece was the stat that nearly 30% of those that bought tickets to UFC 111 were from the state of New York. It’s not a shock by any means, but it’s some pretty real and tangible evidence that there is a substantial market for MMA in New York. In fact, it’s close to the number of Ontarians that buy tickets for UFC events in Montreal (which I believe is closer to 40%).

Some conservative envelope math on the general economic impact of an event in New York (MSG for example):

18,000 in attendance
$3.5 million gate

  • $3.5 million x 8.5% gross receipts tax: $297,500
  • Out-of-state spending: 30% of the 18,000 spend two nights in NYC, spending approximately $200/day for food, lodging, transportation, and miscellaneous expenditures (alcohol, shopping, etc.): $400 x 5,400 = $2,160,000
  • In-state spending: 70% of 18,000 spending approximately $100 each for food, lodging, transportation, and miscellaneous expenditures (alcohol, shopping, etc.): $100 x 12,600 = $1,260,000
  • The trickle down effect (economic multiplier where approximately $3 of every $10 spent is reinvested into the local economy – and for our purpose, just three times): ($1,260,000+$2,160,000) x 30% = $1, 026,000; then $1,026,000 x 30% = $307,800; and $307,800 x 30% = $92,340. All of which equals: $1,426,000

The amount of fan spending, only, that would be reinvested back into the NY economy would be over $5,000,000. That’s on the basis of a conservative gate estimate, lower than average per night spending for out-of-state and in-state fans (all of which impacts the trickle down of money re-invested by those receiving it). Also, none of the above includes what the UFC would spend on 500+ hotel rooms, local labor, commission fees, etc.

If you’re interested, here’s something more in-depth (30+ pages).

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