Dana White Not Optimistic About the UFC Landing in New York in 2013
The UFC's 20th anniversary show will still go down this November, but a plan to land in New York City looks less and less likely by the day.
Late last year, UFC president Dana White mentioned that his hopes were high that mixed martial arts would finally be legalized and regulated in the state of New York at some point in 2013. The promotion would then target a November date at the famed Madison Square Garden (MSG) for a major pay-per-view celebrating 20 years since the UFC first started.
Many politicians in New York have stood up in support of MMA being regulated in the state, but the legislature there still has not had a final vote on legalizing the sport. MMA legislation has passed in the state senate on a couple of occasions in the past, but it has not been brought up for a vote in the state assembly by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
In addition, MMA was not added to the state budget, which makes it highly unlikely the sport will land in New York this year.
"They didn't put it in the budget," White said during the UFC on Fox 7 media day on Thursday when addressing the topic of MMA in New York. "Anything can happen. I'm not as optimistic as I was a few weeks ago."
For several years the UFC has lobbied to get the sport legalized in New York, but despite their best efforts, every time MMA seems close to becoming a reality, a brick wall appears out of nowhere.
The most notable obstacle according to White is an ongoing battle with the Culinary Union based out of Las Vegas. The Culinary Workers Union 226 is a Las Vegas-based union that has battled with Station Casinos for several years. Station Casinos is not unionized, and also just so happens to be owned by Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta—who also own the UFC.
The Culinary Union has concerted considerable effort to block the UFC from landing in New York as they try to mount pressure on Station Casinos to unionize their work force.
"Everybody wants it there except the Culinary Union," White stated. "Every time we try to move forward and progress in New York, the Las Vegas Culinary Union starts hammering everybody with letters and they're working the politicians and everything else."
MMA's legalization in New York isn't technically dead for 2013, but White's expectations remain low that a deal will get done this year. Either way, the UFC will move forward with a major show to celebrate the 20th anniversary for the promotion—it just won't likely land in New York City.
"There's going to be a 20-year anniversary," said White. "It's just not going to be at MSG."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted