Gov. David Paterson’s proposal to legalize mixed-martial arts events in New York is receiving a knockout blow from New York voters, according to a poll today.
Sixty-eight percent of registered voters believe the sport should remain illegal in the state, with just 29 percent agreeing with Paterson’s plan, according to a Marist College poll. Women voiced stronger opposition to the plan, with 82 percent opposing the legalization of the sport. Comparatively, 55 percent of men opposed the proposal.
“It suggests that they are certainly not in the governor’s corner on this one,” said Lee Miringoff, Marist College pollster. “Although younger voters and men are more supportive than others, there still is no majority support for this proposal.”
Professional mixed martial arts is currently regulated and taxed in 40 states. Last year, a bill to legalize the sport in New York was not passed.
But Paterson, in his 2010-11 budget proposal, wants to make the sport legal as a way to generate revenue for the state. He estimated about $2 million in revenue from an 8.5 percent tax on admission to any matches or exhibitions.
Broadcasting rights would also be subject to a tax of the lesser value of $50,000 or 3 percent of the contract, and promoters and fighters would have to pay a license fee. The sport would be regulated by the state Athletic Commission.
Jessica Bassett, a spokeswoman for Paterson’s budget office, said the proposal would help the state and the economy of the area where the events are held.
The revenue estimate “doesn’t take into account the local impact that legalizing would have on the area,” she said. “If there’s a major bout at Madison Square Garden, that doesn’t take into account the impact to restaurants and hotels.”
Last week, Paterson unveiled his plan to close a $7.4 billion deficit, which included steep cuts to health care and school aid in addition to $1 billion in new taxes and fees.
The Marist poll of 838 New York registered voters was conducted on Jan. 25-27 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.