Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The bill to legalize MMA in New York State is on the front burner now getting scrutinized by the Tourism, Arts and Sports Development Committee (where it was stalled last year). If it survives, it gets voted on in the State Assembly and State Senate and then signed by the governor. Then it's "Yay. Woo. Party time. Pro MMA returns to New York." When the bill passes, credit should go to Zuffa and their regulatory guru Marc Ratner for getting all their legislative ducks in a row, but also to people like Jeff Blatnik, Brian McLaughlin and a ton of others who took the time to educate legislators whenever they could. So what are some of the more salient points of the current incarnation of the bill (a bill that's been re-written a few times already)?
- An 8.5% gate tax on all gross revenues generated from ticket sales. This is sort of hefty, and more than anything would be discouraging to mid- and lower-level promoters than to someone like the UFC or Strikeforce.
- A 3% tax on gross revenues from broadcasting, with a cap of $50,000 (i.e., the State maxes out on 50 large).
- The New York State Athletic Commission has to add martial arts organizations to its "approved list", which means blokes representing the United States Naked Oil Wrestling Federation and the International Karate and Coffee-Enema League might now have a chance at putting on sanctioned events - provided those organizations are viable and meet NYSAC standards.
- A "professional combative sports participant" is any fighter who competes for money, or teaches, or "pursues or assists in the practice of mixed martial arts as a means of obtaining a livelihood or pecuniary gain". Um, doesn't this sound like anyone connected to MMA, including journalists and fight gear and clothing salesman, would now be considered a participant?
- A "professional combative sports match or exhibition" is now any bout where participants receive anything for their troubles or admission is charged to the event. This pretty much sews up the loophole that allowed events like the Underground Combat League.
- Gyms teaching MMA are subject to licensing by the NYSAC.
- There's a three-year sunset clause on the bill, meaning that after three years the law is automatically repealed. Really, think of this just as a mandatory review clause to encourage tweaking if things aren't working out as planned.