Update From Augusta
Finding a New Economic Opportunity
The last two weekends, there have been big crowds at the Stephens Avenue Armory in Portland and the Portland Expo, as Maine promotion companies hosted the first ever full sanctioned mixed martial arts events in Maine. Thousands of spectators from all over the Northeast traveled to Maine to watch these shows. By all accounts, the events were a resounding success, offering an opportunity to both amateur and professional fighters from Maine and throughout New England to compete in the fastest growing professional sport -- mixed martial arts or MMA.
In the last legislative session, I worked to pass a bill that enabled these MMA events to be held in Maine. We had to rebuild our state’s ability to oversee and regulate gladiatorial sports after the Maine Athletic Commission, that had formerly regulated prizefighting and boxing, was disbanded. The Athletic Commission was disbanded because interest in prizefighting had waned in Maine and there were no requests for scheduling bouts over several years. At the same time, interest in mixed martial arts was growing -- not only nationally but within the state, so I sponsored a bill to create a new
regulatory mechanism for this sport.
As a result of the growth of MMA, interest in more traditional gladiatorial sports, such as boxing, has been revived. One well known promoter in central Maine attempted to put on a fight only to learn that it was not possible. Given this interest, I got involved with a number of parties to develop a modification to the existing statute in order to restore the regulatory
framework to enable sanctioned prizefighting to resume in Maine.
Combat sports have a large fan base and following in Maine, and provide an opportunity to attract new investments in Maine by expanding these sports. Maine has a long history with boxing -- including hosting one of Muhammad Ali’s most famous prize fights. This legislation is designed to provide opportunities for Maine fans of combat sports, as well as the people who
compete in these contests to have events in our state.
Two weeks ago the legislature held a public hearing on L.D. 889, An Act To Regulate Boxing and Prizefighting in Maine.
Rather than create a duplicative authority to regulate boxing, LD 889 proposes to expand the scope of the MMA Authority to regulate boxing as well as MMA. Since the state is facing serious financial constraints and consolidation and efficiency are guiding principles in shaping new initiatives, this seems preferable to creating a new standalone entity to regulate prizefighting. Given the similarities of regulating gladiatorial sports like MMA or boxing, it seems logical to expand the scope of the present authority to oversee these contests as well.
To that end, LD 889 will:
Change the name of the Mixed Martial Arts Authority of Maine to the Combat Sports Authority of Maine; Expand the membership of the Authority by adding 2 new members, with expertise in boxing, and; Direct the new Authority to adopt new rules to govern boxing, using the rules that had previously been established by the Maine Athletic Commission during its operations, if appropriate.
Combat Sports -- both MMA and Boxing -- have many fans in Maine, and those who work and train as fighters, as well as those who see these contests of skill as good entertainment, should be able to practice their sport in their home state. Finally, MMA athletes have that opportunity, but now boxers who have a long and storied history in Maine are denied that privilege. LD 889 will correct that situation.
In addition to pleasing fans, these contests have the potential to generate new revenues for the state, its communities, and the many small businesses that make up the combat sports industry. If the last two weekend’s contests are any examples, we can look forward to generating tourism revenues from these sporting contests just as the Portland Seadogs or the newly founded Red Claws stimulate the economy -- selling hotel rooms and meals as well as revenues for venues, vendors and
participants in the contests.
I am very proud to report that last week the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee voted 11-2 Ought To Pass on LD 889. One Democrat and one Republican opposed the bill. With such a strong report coming out of committee, LD 889 should hopefully pass both chambers of the Legislature and land on the Governor’s desk to be signed sometime within the next month.
I’ll be working on getting this legislation enacted -- not only because I am a fan of these combat sports, but because the growth of these sports can be a lift to our economy and mean more jobs. In this economy, every little bit helps!
I’m also thrilled to report that a week ago my colleagues on the Health and Human Services Committee unanimously voted to support the passage of my bill LD 683, “An Act To Enhance Long-Term Care Services for Maine Citizens.” The bill now moves to the full legislature for votes by the House and Senate.
I’m always interested in hearing from you with questions, ideas or concerns. Get in touch with me by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (207) 776-8051. Thank you for the honor of serving as your Representative.