Strong Interest by UFC & Arenas to Bring Professional MMA to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, & New York City Area
Albany – Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC® Chairman & CEO, announced that two UFC executives spent the last three days meeting with arena managers as they toured venues from Buffalo to New York City. As the New York State Assembly will soon consider whether to pass legislation – approved by the State Senate for the last six years – making New York the 50th state to legalize professional mixed martial arts (MMA), Fertitta said the UFC wanted to be ready to move as quickly as possible to begin planning events across the Empire State.
“Let me reiterate what I’ve said publicly before, the UFC is committed to bringing some of the best and biggest events we’ve ever held to New York State if they legalize and regulate professional MMA. Over the next three years – assuming passage this year – UFC will hold a minimum of four events per year in New York, with at least two upstate events every year,” Fertitta said. “We are as excited to host events in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Albany as we are in finally bringing UFC to downstate arenas, such as the iconic Madison Square Garden and new Barclays Center.”
Earlier this week, Peter Dropick, UFC’s Senior Vice President, Event Development & Operations, and Michael Britt, UFC’s Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations, met with officials from and toured Buffalo’s First Niagara Center, Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena, Oncenter War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, Utica Memorial Auditorium, Albany’s Times Union Center, Madison Square Garden, and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“UFC is certainly eager to bring our world class athletes and our exuberant fans – from New York, surrounding states and Canada – to venues across the state. And we know that venues and localities across the state will benefit economically from the shows and events put on by UFC and other MMA promoters,” Britt said. “A conservative estimate shows that legalizing and regulating professional MMA in New York will generate $135 million in economic activity – and bring thousands of out-of-state tourists to New York – annually.”
Jennifer Van Rysdam, VP Arena Events, First Niagara Center, said, “Having the UFC come to town and to our arena would be a chance for visitors to experience what Buffalo offers and local business owners will reap the benefits. Being a stone’s throw from Canada, we know that the passionate UFC fans from the north will be flocking across the border to see events in our arena and spend their dollars at hotels, restaurants and stores across Buffalo and Erie County.”
Jeff Calkins, General Manager of the Blue Cross Arena, said, “Having the chance to host events put on by one of the world’s premiere sports organization is an exciting thing for the Blue Cross Arena and a great promotion for Rochester and Monroe County. Our restaurants, hotels, family businesses, etc., would feel the economic impact from these events. This is where Jon Jones was born and he deserves an opportunity to perform here for his family, friends and fans.”
Michael Spaulding, Director of Arena & Theater Services for the Oncenter of Syracuse, said, “The Oncenter looks forward to the possibility of hosting a UFC event once professional MMA is approved in NYS. Just one MMA event per year would have a huge economic impact not only for our venue, but the surrounding hotels, restaurants and bars as well. Currently, amateur MMA is legal in New York, but it is not regulated. Legalizing MMA would regulate the sport both at the amateur and professional levels while ensuring the safety of the athletes.”
Robert Esche, President of Mohawk Valley Garden Corporation (Utica Memorial Auditorium), said, “Tourism is a driving force of any local economy, and in recent months, Utica Memorial Auditorium has proven this to be true. We are not only excited to host high-end events like MMA in the future, but also to help grow their Northeastern fan base. We view MMA as an integral part of furthering economic development in the tourism industry of New York State.
Bob Belber, SMG Regional General Manager, Times Union Center, said, “The Times Union Center in Albany would be an excellent choice for a UFC Mixed martial arts event once the State Legislature votes to allow MMA professional fights to be presented. With more than 17,000 seats the economic impact to the Capital Region would greatly help area businesses and tax revenues for the state, county and city would add up quickly. We are thrilled for MMA fans in the Capital Region who soon may be able to come to Albany to see their favorite fighters.”
Brett Yormark, Barclays Center CEO, said, “UFC aligns perfectly with our strategy of being in the big event business,” said. “We are excited to host UFC events at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the renovated Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, allowing us to reach a new fan base while driving economic activity for local businesses. It’s time. We know New Yorkers are eager for MMA.”
Joel Fisher, executive vice president, sports properties for the Madison Square Garden Company, said, “Every athlete aspires to compete at Madison Square Garden, and we eagerly anticipate providing the elite MMA fighters in the New York area and around the world the opportunity to live out that dream. Without this legislation, which also proposes important regulatory oversight, New York will continue to lose an economic opportunity to other states. We look forward to bringing the UFC phenomenon to MSG for the legions of passionate MMA fans, and for the benefit of the city and the state.”
“We continue to have strong and growing support from New Yorkers who want to bring the fastest growing sport in the world to their home state,” Fertitta said. “We are doing everything we possibly can to be ready to promote events across upstate and downstate New York. All it will take is for the New York State Assembly to join with every other state legislative body in the nation and say ‘yes’ to making the sport legal, regulated and safe.”