Have MMA's Financial Benefits Been Overstated?

Added revenues, but added costs to state as well

The pending legalization of mixed martial arts by the New York State government may be more timely as ever given the shenanigans going on in Albany these days. Wouldn't sticking Malcolm Smith, Dean Skelos and Hiram Monserrate inside a cage and not letting them out until there's a serious agreement to actually take care of business be in everyone's best interests? 

Alas, it isn't legal yet and we'll need to wait for the clown college to get back into session before they can put the finishing touches on a bill to allow UFC and other MMA promoters to start running cards in New York State. The main thrust behind legalizing the sport now after years of pushing it in the shadows is the hope that it will generate revenue for the state coffers which could surely use it.

Geoffrey Gray of New York Magazine's Daily Intel blog raises a question about much benefit the state would actually see from hosting fight cards. He cites increased costs for the New York State Athletic Commission for training and hiring staff, medical bills that ensure safety standards and a $50,000 cap on revenue from pay-per-view as reasons why the sport's arrival might come with baggage that none of its proponents are talking about.

Fair points all, but they aren't backed up with any actual numbers that find New York losing money on the decision to bring MMA to the state. UFC has estimated that there would be nearly $1 million in tax revenue generated by an event in New York City and $320,000 by an event in Buffalo. Those numbers may be inflated, consider the source, but there isn't much evidence that the state still wouldn't be coming out ahead.

Complaining about the $50,000 PPV cap sounds good, because the UFC can clear $20 million in sales on an event, but the truth is that is an ancillary line of income. The promotion could do these fights anywhere and the PPV sales would remain the same, but the tickets, taxes and other money being spent can only come from hosting events in New York.

All of the drawbacks to legalizing MMA in terms of the cost of regulation and medical bills are shared by having legalized boxing in New York. It would be one thing if all fighting sports were banned, but choosing one over the other seems to be an outgrowth of the outmoded idea of MMA being less safe than boxing.

Grey's points are important to consider so that the move to legalize MMA benefits New York as much as possible, but they aren't enough to continue the banishment.

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