Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - State Senator Mark Grisanti says that New York is missing out on a way to boost the economy that's sitting right under their nose.
Grisanti is co-sponsor of a bill that would legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York state.
The bill has passed the senate three separate times, but has still not passed through the assembly.
"The problem is that the Speaker (Sheldon Silver) won't bring the bill on to the floor" Grisanti said. "I think if the Speaker brought it to the committee, the committee would pull for it to go on to the floor." Grisanti added that he believes the fact that Silver doesn't like the sport is what is keeping his bill from being voted on.
Grisanti said that aside from putting New York in the group with the 47 other states who regulate MMA, legalizing the sport could be a boost to local economies wherever bouts are held.
"When Toronto had their (most recent UFC event), the tickets sold out in record time at a total of $11 Million. From Friday's weigh-in, to Sunday when the event was over, they estimate that the revenue for Toronto which includes hotels and restaurants to be $35 million with $8 million also for taxes, just in that weekend."
The time may be now for New York to capitalize on the popularity of MMA and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The UFC's Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, who holds countless UFC records and will grace the cover of the company's new video game, is from Rochester. In Grisanti's mind, that would make Syracuse or possibly Buffalo an ideal location for one of Jones' upcoming title defenses. "If you had that type of event at First Niagara Center, they estimate that the draw (ticket sales) from the weekend would be $7-13 million."
Grisanti hopes 2014 will finally be the year that the bill gets put up for a vote. If it does expect to see MMA events in the state rather quickly. Last year the UFC reserved a date at Madison Square Garden, that had to be canceled when it became clear the sport would not be legalized.