MMA bill appears dead in Connecticut due to union opposition

by Brian Lockhart | source: nhregister.com
 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

 

For Charlie Dowd, legalizing and regulating mixed martial arts in Connecticut is a no-brainer.

"This is a sport which is worldwide. Forty-seven out of 50 states currently monitor and license it. It is readily available on television," said Dowd, vice president of operations at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena. "If we (the arena) can get even one or two events annually ... the economic perspective is potential sellouts and economic benefit to the city."

The prospects for a bill allowing mixed martial arts during the 2012 session at the Capitol were good -- until last week.

There has been overwhelming support in the Finance, Public Safety and General Law committees for the proposal, in no small part because of lobbying by Dowd, the XL Center in Hartford and the Connecticut Restaurant Association.

The same bill last year never made it out of the Finance Committee.

And a legislative analysis estimated the state could earn up to $316,000 annually from related licenses, permits and taxes.

Then last week Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, and Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, who must bring the measure up for a vote and pass it on to the House of Representatives before Wednesday's adjournment, effectively KO'd the proposal.

"We aren't convinced it makes good policy for the state right at this time," Looney said. "The bill is problematic." He did not provide details but acknowledged his concerns about violence, the industry and union opposition.

Dowd said UFC rivals Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment in popularity.

Whereas WWE owners Vince and Linda McMahon in the 1980s successfully convinced states, including Connecticut, to deregulate their industry on the grounds it is staged, UFC has embraced Regulation to legitimize mixed martial arts.

Other legislators said they are turned off by mixed martial arts, but that is not justification for killing the bill.

"It is very violent. It's not something I'd recruit to bring into the state," said Rep. Patricia Widlitz, D-Guilford, who voted for the mixed martial arts Legislation as a Finance Committee chairwoman. But Widlitz said she recognized the economic value of the events, and they are already being held at the casinos.

House Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said if the bill survived a Senate vote, he would support it.

"In a session where we are doing away with 'blue laws' (by allowing Sunday liquor sales) and shredding our Puritan past, it seems inconsistent to have some objection to mixed martial arts, any more than we'd have a problem with WWE," Sharkey said.

In testimony submitted to legislators by the Connecticut AFL-CIO, union secretary Lori Pelletier said that because the Nevada AFL-CIO has had problems at Las Vegas hotels with industry ties, their peers in Connecticut "cannot in good conscience condone their actions by supporting this bill."

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Monday, April 16, 2012

A bill that would legalize and regulate mixed martial arts in Connecticut is moving through the state legislature after passing another round of committee votes.

Despite concerns from some state lawmakers, members of the General Assembly's Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee voted 46-to-4 in favor of the bill Monday afternoon.

The bill would legalize and regulate mixed martial arts matches. If passed, it would also allow the popular events, which draw thousands of fans, to venues in Connecticut cities.

Currently, matches can only be held at the two Connecticut casinos owned by sovereign Indian tribes.

Last month the state's Public Safety and Security Committee voted in favor of the bill.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

A bill that would legalize and regulate mixed martial arts matches in Connecticut is poised to pass a second legislative committee this afternoon, despite opposition votes from southeastern Connecticut lawmakers.

Although MMA matches are currently allowed at the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos owned by sovereign Indian tribes, they aren’t permitted off the reservations in venues such as Hartford’s XL Center.

Members of the General Assembly’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee have until 3 p.m. to vote on the legalization proposal. The bill cleared the public safety committee last month, despite a "no" vote from Rep. Steve Mikutel, D-Griswold.

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Friday, March 02, 2012

A bill that would sanction and regulate mixed martial arts fights in the state is coming up for a public hearing next week, and supporters are ready and waiting at the ropes for the change.

“Our mantra is, ‘we run to regulation,’” said Mark Ratner, vice president of regulatory and governmental affairs for UFC, the nation’s largest mixed martial arts promoters.

Ratner also is the former head of Nevada’s state Athletic Commission, which sanctions and regulates boxing, and said he would like to see the doctors, medical insurance and management that sport boasts become available to mixed martial arts fighters in Connecticut.

In states without regulatory agencies, mixed martial arts fights take place, but “underground,” Ratner said. In Connecticut, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun hold mixed marital arts fights, as they are both sovereign nations with their own regulatory systems, but there also are unregulated fights taking place between local martial arts schools.

“They’re called ‘smoker matches,’” said Dan Semeraro, owner of Thunder MMA in Watertown.

“Smoker matches” are not the bloody, bare-knuckle bouts one might envision, according to Semeraro. There are “a lot more rules,” bigger gloves and more mutual respect.

“I don’t want to say it’s underground,” he said. “It’s more different schools getting together. More of a sparring session than a real fight.”

Keith Sheldon, director of business operations for AEG, which operates Hartford’s XL Center, said he’ll be testifying next week before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Security with the message mixed martial arts will be good for his venue, and good for Connecticut.

Sheldon anticipates the first mixed martial arts fight would “absolutely sell out,” bringing in an anticipated $2 million, gross, 10 percent of which would go to the state for admissions tax.

“It will be one of our highest-grossing events ever, if not the highest-grossing event ever,” he said.

Ratner will head to Albany to lobby for the sport, before heading to Connecticut next week. He said he expects Vermont to sanction mixed martial arts this year, as well as New York. He doesn’t see a problem in this state, either.

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tags: Legislation   Regulation   Connecticut   



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Recent Comments »

Fyuk Yu site profile image  

5/7/12 6:37 PM by Fyuk Yu

If the wops cant make money off of it for doing absolutely nothing they try to ban it. Typical!

rufus site profile image  

5/7/12 11:00 AM by rufus

Yeah!

Kirik site profile image  

5/6/12 10:23 PM by Kirik

It is not news, it is a blog.  The piece referenced the guy who killed it. saying "We aren't convinced it makes good policy for the state right at this time. The bill is problematic." He did not provide details but acknowledged his concerns about violence, the industry and union opposition. The piece also interviewed other legislators who said they had concerns about the violence, but would vote for it. The piece closed with AFL-CIO union secretary Lori Pelletier, who submitted testimony to legislators, saying that because the Nevada AFL-CIO has had problems at Las Vegas hotels with industry ties, their peers in Connecticut "cannot in good conscience condone their actions by supporting this bill." Where is the propaganda?

JJ1337 site profile image  

5/6/12 9:35 PM by JJ1337

UG News spreading some UFC propaganda

cripplersc site profile image  

5/6/12 8:59 PM by cripplersc

This is some bullshit. Its going to help the fucking state. It isnt like that Looney guy has to fight. Do like every other law in CT. Pass it and dont pay attention to it. Were about to have Sunday liqour sales and medical marijuana but we cant have sactioned MMA fights! WTF!

drrilll site profile image  

5/6/12 8:56 PM by drrilll

Wow. Its not like they are hurting the UFC by doing this. They are just screwing themselves out of a huge economic boost. Way to go Connecticut

rufus site profile image  

5/6/12 8:35 PM by rufus

Lesson here is, unions and their lapdog Democrat lackeys are scumbags.

RyannVonDoom site profile image  

5/6/12 8:08 PM by RyannVonDoom

my ex is in Randolph, and they were murmuring about sanctioning last year or so.

Kirik site profile image  

5/6/12 7:41 PM by Kirik

 This is insane. I have helped run a grappling show in Hartford, and the unions at the arenas there are strong. These guys were getting $100 PER HOUR. A UFC in Conn would bring big money to the local unions. It just makes no sense. Because the majority owners of the UFC have casinos without unions, then it is justice that MMA is banned? I am not a real political guy, but it doesn't take a Psychiatrist to tell when something is crazy.

Gnarls Gnarlington site profile image  

4/16/12 5:20 PM by Gnarls Gnarlington

that's excellent news.