2016 could be the year in which upstate cities get an economic boost from mixed martial arts. Legislation to legalize the sport passed the State Senate’s Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee Tuesday morning.
With MMA as part of the Governor’s 2016 budget proposal and new leadership in the State Assembly, State Senator Tim Kennedy is optimistic that New York will finally open the door to MMA.
Some past supporters in the Assembly could be key players in that success, according to Kennedy.
“That includes the sponsor of the bill in the Assembly – the Majority Leader Joe Morelle – who’s actually an upstate guy, he’s a Rochester guy, and the newly elected speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie, has co-sponsored the bill in the past,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy said a recent independent study shows that 70 large and small-scale MMA events held around the state could generate close to $67 million in annual spending. He said roughly half of that money would be spent in Upstate New York.
“Including places like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse,” said Kennedy. “And fans are going to come from all over the state, all over the region. In our case they’re going to pouring over the border from Canada to make purchases in restaurants, shops, hotels and over the border from Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania.”
Kennedy said not only is legalizing MMA the popular thing to do, but he also believes it is the right thing to do for people in Western New York.
“There’s no question in my mind that the restaurants and the bars will be filled to capacity,” said Kennedy. “There will be sellout after sellout at the First Niagara Center and other venues in Buffalo and Western New York.”
Kennedy said this is the earliest that he’s seen MMA legislation begin to make its way through the state capitol compared to past years.