Skip to main content

As mixed martial arts moves toward legalization in New York, backers at Barclays Center should consider neighborhood impact

If you go by the press coverage, the New York State legislature is on the way to legalizing mixed martial arts (MMA), the last state to allow this violent but popular hybrid of boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, and more.

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.

But momentum is growing.

Even if the law passes, I'd like to raise another concern, one not ventilated in previous debates but clearly an issue in Brooklyn.

 MMA audiences are most akin, I'd bet, to those who attend boxing and wrestling events. Evidence from past Barclays Center events shows that those crowds are among the most amped and rowdy, and that spreads into the neighborhood, even, in one case, connected to a horrific episode of sexual harassment/violence against a local resident.

So if it does pass, and MMA comes to Brooklyn, the Barclays Center and backers like Adams should very clearly explain what extra measures they will take.

Some of the battle

In March 2013, the Albany Times Union editorialized, "But why else should New York legalize a form of pugilism where almost anything goes and injuries can be quite serious?"

Backers, however, point out that the individual elements of MMA are recognized sports, and the real danger is underground, illegal matches. (Here's some other coverage from 2010 to 2014, from City & State.)

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.
That said, the union web site Zuffa Investor Alerts continues, as does the union effort at Station Casinos.



Zuffa is spending a lot of money on lobbying and campaign contributions, including, of course, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (Oh, there was one actual bribe, not from Zuffa, but part of a sting operation.)

A 12/30/2015 article in the Auburn Citizen outlined the history of New York legalizing MMA in 1996--the first state--then rescinding it a year later, and the current push for passage. The departure of now-convicted former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is seen as adding to the likelihood Assembly leaders will move the bill, given that his successor, Carl Heastie, supports MMA.

State Sen. Liz Krueger called the sport too dangerous. "I just don't know why the state of New York should want to encourage more young people to do great damage to themselves that will actually cost the people of New York state quite a bit of money over their lifetimes," she told the newspaper.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in January 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.

As …

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).

As…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…