Mixed martial arts has generated more revenue — and more tax payments to the state — in the two years since the sport was legalized, Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed Thursday.
Since Sept. 1, 2016 through the end of August this year, the total revenue generated by combat sports was $97,245,574, a 204.6-percent increase over the prior two-year period. Ticket sale revenue increased by 161 percent, from 25.6 million to $67.1 million, and simulcast revenue rose from $6.2 million to $30.1 million.
From Sept. 1, 2014 to Aug. 31, 2016, state tax payments from combat sport events totaled $939,495. That figure increased to more than $7.5 million over the last two years.
There were more tickets sold — 530,143, up from 333,529 — and the number of combat sport events increased from 132 to 149.
Cuomo's office highlighted the success of mixed martial arts in New York. UFC, the leading MMA promotion, has held bouts in Albany, Brooklyn, Buffalo, New York City, Uniondale and Utica since the state legalized the sport in 2016. The first UFC event in New York, UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, generated more than $37 million for the New York City area. The fights provided more than $18.4 million in salaries and wages for 300 workers, according to studies commissioned by UFC.
UFC 210 in Buffalo last year generated $7.4 million in economic output for the western New York region. The event supported 72 jobs and $3 million in wages.
"UFC has consistently delivered significant economic returns for the cities and states that have hosted our events, and we knew we would have a major impact in New York once professional MMA was legalized," said Ike Lawrence Epstein, UFC's senior executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Epstein added, "Thanks to support from Governor Cuomo and many others, UFC has delivered on its promises to New York and we look forward to many more UFC events to New York — including Brooklyn next month — and continuing to have a meaningful impact on the local economy."
Other combat sports boosted revenue over the past two years. Boxing's revenue increased from $13.43 million to $27.95 million, with tax revenue rising from $355,231 to $807,949. Wrestling's revenue was nearly identical — $18.05 million to $17.91 million — with tax payments dropping slightly from $587,264 to $527,724.
But it's the addition of mixed martial arts that has made the biggest impact. The state banned MMA in 1997. For several years, UFC and other MMA promotions lobbied to lift the prohibition.
In 2016, Cuomo signed legislation to lift the ban on MMA events.
"The combat sports industry has produced unprecedented revenue and economic activity for New York since the introduction of mixed martial arts two years ago," Cuomo said. "This new data speaks volumes about the popularity of these exciting events, which support hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic output."