The continued fight for MMA in NY
April 23, 2013
The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) is running an in depth perspective on combat sports this week and one of the articles asks whether this will be the year New York finally sanctions MMA.
The article points to several inferences that could position the bill to legalize MMA for a vote in Albany this year. This includes the state senate passing the bill to legalize MMA by a vote of 47-14, comments made by Governor Andrew Cuomo in support of MMA and64 members of the Assembly co-sponsored the MMA bill (12 short of the needed for the bill to be made into law). The most telling inference is the fact that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told the New York Daily News that MMA will “probably” be legalized but did not indicate when this might occur.
An interesting take on the fight to legalize MMA in New York is the position that the lobbying efforts of Zuffa has hurt the overall effort due to the strong opposition against Zuffa. Namely, the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York questioned whether if Zuffa played a “smaller role” would MMA have already gained legal status.
A vote on the bill to legalize MMA must take place before the legislature ends on June 21st. But, the Assembly’s Democrats will decide on the bill’s fate at the annual Democratic Conference in May.
With the article coming out this week in the Sports Business Journal and the indication that the bill would be decided (whether to vote or not) in the next couple weeks, it was likely that opponents would voice their opposition and will speak out about the bill on Tuesday.
It will be interesting to see how the legislature will play out this spring. If a bill is turned away this year, the litigation efforts will likely not provide any help this year as well. Even though the New York Attorney General conceded in court proceedings that the statute may allow an exempt third party to sanction professional MMA, it has taken a hard line in not entertaining a settlement in the lawsuit if one of the concessions is allowing professional MMA in New York. Despite the financial benefits of MMA in the state, the opposition remains stiff. The union opposition to Zuffa has definitely come back to hurt it in trying to legalize MMA in New York.