It seems nearly everyone has been waiting for mixed martial arts sanctioning to pass through the government in the state of New York.
So what’s the hold up? Believe it or not, says UFC president Dana White, it’s the Culinary Union that’s behind the stalling of legislation to legalize MMA in the state.
“It has nothing to do with Mixed Martial Arts, of all things, it’s the Culinary Union that’s keeping us out of New York,” White told radio hosts Boomer and Craig on WFAN earlier this week. “They’re powerful guys here.”
Why would the Culinary Union have anything to do with trying to slow or block the legalization of MMA in New York?
White believes it is because his partners at Zuffa (the company that owns the UFC), Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, are also involved in the casino business. Their company, Station Casinos, is one of the largest non-union casino companies in the United States.
This is where the rubber meets the road. The Culinary Union has been trying for years to unionize Station Casinos, but thus far, has been thwarted. This is why White believes they are using their vast resources – the Culinary Union boasts approximately 60,000 members – to stop the Fertittas from bringing their mixed martial arts business to New York.
White obviously has his own interests in wanting to legalize MMA in the state. It is a tremendous untapped market for his company. But he adds that sanctioning would also be an economic boon for New York.
“The economic impact we have on a city is huge,” he stated, noting that it’s not just Madison Square Garden in New York City that his company has targeted. The UFC intends to have an impact across the state.
“We’re talking about going up into Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester; these cities that are hurting right now and could really use a big event like this. We just did a fight in Toronto, not too far from Buffalo, 55,000 people. We did almost a 13 million dollar gate. We paid 1.5 million dollars in union fees up in Toronto to union workers that were working up there and we paid over a million dollars just in ticket tax up there.
“The economic impact we had on the city of Toronto was 45 million dollars.”
Despite the projected economic impact, mixed martial arts legislation has yet to be up for a vote before the New York State Assembly.
“This time we got all the way up, got all the votes all the way (through various committees), but they never put us on the floor to try and get the votes,” said White.
It would seem almost laughable to White if it weren’t for the frustration that has built up over years of trying.
“They are spending union member dues to fight the UFC from coming (to New York).”