Assemblyman Santabarbara: Victory in the Fight for Mixed Martial Arts in New York

“It is with great excitement and pride that I can announce today’s passage of legalizing professional Mixed Martial Arts in New York State. We worked to gain support over the years, and today’s victory for the sport’s fans and athletes was hard-earned and long overdue. I’m very pleased that our local MMA athletes can soon get the chance to finally play the home game.

“For too long our state has lost business and missed out on the tremendous economic opportunities that come with professional MMA. Following today’s vote, I’m confident that the fans, and tourism dollars, can soon start returning to our great state. Our upstate venues in cities like Schenectady are ready to host professional MMA events, and I would expect to see local competitions from our area before the end of the year, with regional visitors filling up our hotels and local businesses.

“Nearly 1,000 people filled the Schenectady Armory when we brought amateur MMA to my district last year, and after the event, the city saw a tremendous economic boost from those who came for MMA and stayed for Downtown Schenectady. Momentum continues to build in Schenectady with the recent news of a world class casino well on its way to being completed.

"We're already seeing job growth and new businesses as a result of the Rivers Casino being built at Mohawk Harbor, and I expect our city and the entire upstate region to take full advantage of the economic opportunities when MMA is finally legalized. We have seen the kind of impact that an amateur event can bring to an upstate city, now imagine what we can do statewide with professional competitions.

“Amateur matches are already common and well-attended, and professional matches from other states are as popular on television in New York as NASCAR or men’s college basketball. Professional competitions would allow the state to regulate the sport and help it become better and safer as we’ve seen in other states, host more matches across the state and grow support industries such as training facilities. Upstate venues like the Times Union Center in Albany would be expected to attract at least three major events and small upstate venues could attract more than 60 events each year, leading to an estimated $33 million in economic activity.

"We’ve seen the big names in UFC like Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey visit us in Albany calling for the sport’s legalization, and that says a lot about our state. We have some of the best athletes in the sport that can compete in 49 other states, but they want to come to New York for our amazing venues and the best fans the world has to offer.

“With today’s vote, we move one step closer to giving our hometown athletes the chance to play the home game and giving athletes around the world the chance to bring their passion to our state. This sport has been growing without us, and now is the time for New York to enter the ring.”