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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The UFC is continuing their efforts to bring MMA to New York State this week, reaching out to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week amidst reports of a new sports division within the Empire State Development Corporation. According to the New York Post, the division would be put in place "to aggressively seek the expansion of professional and amateur sporting events around the state."
Well, the UFC believes they are one such sporting endeavor that would help boost tourism and the local economies of the cities in which they could run. With that in mind, UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta once again made the case for legalizing the sport in the state.
"High profile sporting events create tourism, revenue and jobs," Fertitta said in a press release from the organization. "So we applaud Governor Cuomo for seeking to increase professional and amateur sporting events across the state. We urge the Governor and his team to help bring professional MMA to New York. The time has come for the merger of the UFC's worldwide brand with the iconic I♥NY brand."
"New York is one of only two states that does not allow professional MMA events," Fertitta continued. Yet, millions of New Yorkers watch the UFC on Fox and other networks, buy our pay-per-view events, travel out of state to see our events, attend and follow the growing number of amateur MMA events in New York, play our video games, and read about UFC and our fighters in their local newspapers. There are hundreds of MMA schools and training facilities across the state. New Yorkers are helping to make MMA the fastest growing sport in history – both in fans and in participants."
"It's time to let New York MMA fans attend UFC events in New York City, on Long Island, in the Hudson Valley, in the Capital Region, in the North Country, in the Mohawk Valley, in Central New York, in the Southern Tier, in the Finger Lakes Region, and in Western New York. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The UFC has contributed to economic development and job creation in communities across the country and around the world and we are eager to bring that kind of economic development and sports excitement to communities across New York."
Penick's Analysis: Considering the initiative being discussed with this new sports division, it would make a lot of sense to legalize MMA. New York City - and more specifically Madison Square Garden - is poised to become a regular spot for the UFC to run once they're legally allowed to do so. But they've also discussed bringing events to Albany, Buffalo, and Rochester in the state, and all of those economies will benefit when the UFC comes to town. Now, this plea to Gov. Cuomo doesn't necessarily mean anything, and he may or may not be more inclined to bring the sport of MMA into the state when and if this new division gets introduced. The door is opening here, though, and as the years go on it becomes just a matter of time before MMA finally becomes legal again in the state.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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