Lorenzo Fertitta: Major Cities Around the World ‘Beg Us’ to do Events
In an ongoing battle to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York, the UFC has been present in the state this past week. At a press-conference, Zuffa CEO and UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta (above) discussed the economic benefit of allowing MMA and UFC events in New York.
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
The UFC held a press-conference at Madison Square Garden last week to promote the legalization of mixed martial arts in the state of New York. UFC Chairman and CEO of Zuffa, LLC Lorenzo Fertitta spoke alongside UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and several representatives from the New York State Assembly and Senate.
The state of New York has remained the only state in the United States to not legalize mixed martial arts. The UFC alleges that this has been the result of heavy lobbying from a Las Vegas-based culinary union; but the point of Thursday’s press conference was to advocate MMA for the economic boost its events provide for host cities.
HR&A Advisors provided information to those in attendance that cited data indicating that the state of New York would generate $135 million annually with the legalization of MMA. $34 million of that would come from the UFC alone, the remaining $101 million would be generated by other MMA promotions and the rise of gyms and training centers in the area.
Fertitta would explain that the UFC’s interest in this is not for its own growth – the company will continue to thrive without the state’s support – but he expressed his frustration with the State’s resistance and said legalizing the fastest growing sport is simply the right thing to do.
“It really doesn’t weigh on me very much,” he said about the UFC not being able to host events in New York. “At the end of the day we are going to continue to be a very successful company. We do events – not only do events in major cities around the world – major cities around the world beg us to do the events.
“They bid on our events as they would The World Cup or The Olympics, so we will continue to do big events in Las Vegas, in New Jersey, Rio, Sao Paulo, London, Stockholm, Tokyo, you name the city and we are going to be there. It’s unfortunate that New York is not going to have one of those events, at least not in the near future, until something happens in the state legislature. Not only is NY the only state in the United States that doesn’t allow this, but it’s pretty much the only place in the world that we can’t go.”
New York Assemblyman Andrew Helvesi spoke at the conference, but he mostly gave support to Speaker Sheldon Silver and spoke to some flaws in the assembly’s system of passing bills. Fertitta would later explain that process to MMA Mania, detailing how the NY assembly only brings bills to the floor if they have a majority vote within the caucas – something Fertitta is confident they have.
“It’s frustrating,” Fertitta would go on to say, “but like I said, we are going to continue. It’s not really going to affect our business. We are still going to operate all around the world and expand and become more popular and grow the sport. One day, New York will wake up and do the right thing. Not by us, but by the athletes and everybody else in the industry. We’ve grown the sport from when we took this thing over 13 years ago to what it is today, without New York. We still continue to grow without New York, but it would be great to have it.”