Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was quiet on the bill to legalize MMA in New York until earlier this year.
And on Tuesday in Albany, the governor spoke publicly again about becoming the 49th state to legalize the sport. He told the Capitol Pressroom radio program that if state lawmakers continue to promise "significant economic advancement," then they should take MMA "seriously."
“I think we need jobs, I think we need economic activity, especially in upstate New York,” he said. “I think this is a major endeavor that is televised, that is happening all over the country at this point. You’re not going to stop it from happening, and I’m interested in the economic potential for the state.”
Those were the words.
Here are some numbers:
Based on the proposed bill, the state would earn a 3 percent tax on broadcasting rights fees, an amount capped at $50,000.
The state would also earn 8.75 percent tax on ticket sales, which can start as low as $50 and go above $1,000 for prime seats on occasion (those more often, they go as high as $600 or $800).
UFC 159 is this Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. This is the third time the UFC, the world's biggest promoter of mixed martial arts fights, has gone to the arena since 2010. It is also their fifth event in New Jersey in that same time span (one at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, and one at the Revel in Atlantic City.)
New York State would get that $50,000 in broadcast fees taxes.
If you average the reported gates for the two previous pay-per-view events in Newark, that's a tick above $3 million per. So, hypothetically, let's say UFC 159 does a ticket gate of $3 million. That's $262,500 dollars in sales tax collected by the state.
That means UFC 159 would generate approximately $312,500 in direct revenue for the state. For one event. (Again, this is a "in the ballpark of" figure for the purposes of this post.)
Where the true economic impact is felt, though, is in the 12,000-17,000 fans traveling to the event, staying in hotels, dining, partying, making a weekend out of it. Many a neighboring business profits and profits big. More sales tax revenue. More fees collected at tolls for bridges and tunnels from the local fans. More dollars in the pockets of employees of those business. More spending. All those dollars add up.
Again, this is some rudimentary math meant to give you an idea of what's what. We'll leave it to the real economists to elaborate on the multi-million dollar economic impact.
If you want an in-depth look at the political fight to legalize MMA in New York, read this.