Public Safety and Security Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5277

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING MIXED MARTIAL ARTS.

Vote Date:

3/19/2013

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/7/2013

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Public Safety and Security Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To regulate the sport of mixed martial arts since there are currently no rules or regulations mandated by a state agency in Connecticut.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

Substitute Language made technical, conforming changes to ensure that the contestants in amateur mixed martial arts matches were treated the same as contestants in amateur boxing matches. The language also deleted references to “wrestling exhibitions”.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

James Krayeske, Chairman. Connecticut Boxing Commission testified in support of the bill. He stated that it made sense but also stressed the importance of including the amateur side of the sport to protect the health and safety of youths who participate.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Allan Connal, President, Concom, Inc. supports the bill. He stated that the bill would positively impact the state's economy, bringing in revenue by allowing safe and well-regulated events and creating jobs in multiple industries.

Charles J. Dowd, Jr. VP/Operations, Webster Bank Arena testified in support of the bill. He stated that the economic benefits MMA could provide to the city of Bridgeport, its citizens, and its business alike in addition to the revenue it could potentially create for the state of Connecticut would prove to be economically significant. By bringing MMA to CT we will stop ceding opportunities to our neighboring states and keep CT resident's entertainment dollars within the state.

Connecticut Restaurant Association testified in support of the bill. They stated that it will greatly benefit the hospitality industry and they support any legislative proposal that will help create economic growth for the state while encouraging people to partake in the numerous dining establishments, sporting venues and hotels that Connecticut has to offer.

Connecticut Lodging Association supports the bill. They stated that revenue estimates from passing this bill would be $250,000-$350,000 per match. They also stated that besides bringing in additional monies, MMA would help to build a market for Connecticut as a travel destination.

James Donohue testified in support of this bill. He stated that in addition to creating revenue for the state, it would also create a safe environment for MMA fighters to perfect their craft. Regulating the sport is paramount to MMA with regard to the safety of the fighters and the fiscal aspects would positively impact the state through the licensures these regulations would create.

Jonathan M. Sousa, Esq. Superior Court, Legal Research testified in support of the bill. He state that legalizing the sport would bring revenue to the state. He also stated that the industry welcomes the legalization and regulation of the sport and those already participating in it.

Representative Mary Mushinsky, 85th District testified in support of the bill. She stated that Connecticut has already authorized boxing and this sport should be given the same state-sanctioned status and standards.

Representative Matt Ritter testified in support of this bill. He stated that this bill will regulate the sport of mixed martial arts while securing the competitors' safety in addition to creating revenue for the state of Connecticut through licensing and registration fees, and a 5% tax imposed on the gross sale of tickets. Currently 45 states have legalized and regulated MMA matches. He also stated that is imperative that Connecticut sets appropriate standards concerning safety by not allowing matches to remain unregulated.

Andrew Calandrelli testified in support of the bill. He stated that the sport is life-changing and provides multiple benefits to participants by combining physical, mental, and spiritual elements. He states that it will benefit businesses and the state.

Charles H. Steedman, Chair, Connecticut Sports Advisory Board, and Executive Committee Member, Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau testified in support of the bill. He stated that it will benefit the state and local economies by creating jobs for workers in and around the event facilities. He also stated that the bill will ensure safety in a currently unregulated sport.

Darin Reisler, Plus Open Defense Systems supports the bill. He stated that the bill would help to promote a growing sport and help young people with discipline, self-esteem, and positive self-awareness. He stated that from his years of involvement with referrals from the Department of Children and Families, he has seen firsthand the proven benefits to a community.

Glover Teixeira testified in support of the bill stating that as an athlete who has competed in several states and around the world, and as one of the Top 10 Light Heavyweight mixed martial artists in the world, he would love to have the opportunity to fight in his home state of Connecticut.

Keith Sheldon, AEG (Operator of the Xl Center) testified in support of this bill. As director of affairs for the XL center, he stated that it is a necessity to ensure first-class entertainment for the facility. Mixed martial arts has a remarkable fan base that continues to grow worldwide, bringing record-breaking crowds and creating revenue for the venues, surrounding businesses, and the state. The state would stand to gain revenue from a 10% state admission tax on an estimated $2 million-plus ticket gross, in conjunction with the fees for the issuance of licenses to sponsors and participants. He stated that by placing MMA under the jurisdiction of the State Boxing Commission, it would allow for the state to regulate MMA and ensure the safety of its fighters in addition to its fans, while helping to create a financial benefit for the state.

Mayor Bill Finch, City of Bridgeport supports the bill. He stated that the economic impact for the City of Bridgeport alone would be significant. He also stated that by legalizing MMA, it would help to promote safety within the sport and generate good paying jobs.

Michael P. Mersch, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) supports the bill. He provided very detailed information on the history of the sport, what the sport entails, the regulations of the sport, sources of support for the sport and the economic benefits of the sport.

Representative Matthew Lesser testified in support of this bill. He stated that it would boost local economic activities and increase revenue. He also pointed out that the industry is actually asking to be regulated and that Connecticut is one of only two states who currently do not have legislation legalizing mixed martial arts. He stated that it would place MMA on an equal footing with the other boxing sports.

Representative Sean Williams, 68th District testified in support of the bill. He stated that it would provide oversight to this sport and generate income. He furthered that this sport is legalized in 48 other states.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Lori Pelletier, Secretary-Treasurer, Connecticut AFL-CIO testified in opposition to this bill. She stated that the MMA world has created many problems for Nevada's AFL-CIO, with almost 80 unfair labor practices that include demeaning slurs about women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community; by using bullying as a form of entertainment, it is clear that these MMA owners are not responsible partners. She also stated that the US Marine Corps has disassociated with the UFC due to their disregard for human decency.

Reported by: Laurel A. Coleman

Date: March19/2013