As mixed martial arts moves toward legalization in New York, backers at Barclays Center should consider neighborhood impact
As the Daily News (and others) reported 2/23/16, a press conference at the Barclays Center featured Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams:
"We are here for one reason only. We are ready to crown mixed martial arts here in Brooklyn, in the state of New York. It's long overdue that this great economic engine and sports initiative should find its home in the largest arena possible. And that is in Brooklyn and New York City and in New York State," Adams said during a press conference at the Barclays Center. "This bill has passed the Senate for several years. When I was a state senator we pushed this bill forward. The only blocking over the years has been in the Assembly."Today, the Daily News reported that Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle is pushing for a final vote on the bill, this month, so some who oppose the measure can speak out. So far, the legalization has been blocked by legislators influenced by religious/women's/domestic violence groups (see 2013 advocacy here), but especially and a campaign against the MMA backers by an important union.
The underbelly of the battle involves unions. Culinary Workers Union Local 226 is trying to unionize Station Casinos, owned by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who own the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the major MMA league. It's part of a larger coalition, Unite Here, powerful in New York.
That may have receded. A Newsweek column last July cited two Culinary Union efforts that are no longer operative (though the UFC site below continues):
In addition, the Culinary Union has created an anti-UFC website called “Unfit For Children” [see cached site here] and a Twitter account called @FightFairMMA, attacking the UFC for alleged misogyny, homophobia and other anti-social behavior from its fighters. The UFC responded by creating its own site to expose the union's real agenda. But ultimately the beliefs and private behavior of its fighters can’t justify a ban on the sport itself, or football would have to be banned too.