By Zach Arnold | April 29, 2012
- California Assembly Bill could give fighters new rights, challenge UFC contracts
- Lorenzo Fertitta’s letter in opposition to AB2100 amendments
- Recap of Sacramento AB2100 bill hearing; passes committee on 5-3 vote
There’s been a lot of confusion, and rightfully so, as to what the actual text of AB2100 looks like right now in terms of an amendment for Mixed Martial Arts in California. Even some members of the Assembly committee that passed the amendments on a 5-3 party-line vote last Wednesday admitted that they had not read the amendments as they currently stand.
So, for the record, here is how the amendments for AB2100 currently looks. It’s much more streamlined than the initial amendments proposed for AB2100 were in the first place.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Add Legislative Intent Language to provide:
It is the intention of the Legislature in enacting these provisions to protect Mixed Martial Arts fighters from being subjected to exploitative, oppressive, or coercive contractual practices that violate the athletes’ freedom to work and their ability to support themselves and their families as professional athletes. Therefore it is necessary and appropriate to establish standards to protect the rights and welfare of mixed martial arts fighters licensed under this chapter.
SEC. 2 Section 18649 is added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:
1864. To ensure that individuals and entities licensed under this act observe common standards of decency, the commission shall, in consultation with the. Association of Boxing Commissioners, establish a professional code of ethical conduct. Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, the commission shall enforce the code of ethical conduct and may suspend, revoke or refuse to issue- or renew the license of any mixed martial arts promoter orfighter that itfinds has violated this Code of Conduct. Violations of this code shall include but not be limited to the following:
a. Engaging in actions or activities such as felony convictions, failing to respond to a subpoena, sanctions by a judge or court of law, crimes involving moral turpitude, sexual assault, ethnic or religious slurs, hate speech and obscene language.
b. Entering into a promotional contract with a mixed martial arts fighter licensed in the state of California if the contract contains one or more coercive provisions. For purposes of this Section, a coercive contract provision includes but is not limited to the following.:
(1) Assigns any exclusive future merchandising rights to a promoter for an unreasonable period beyond the term of the promotional contract.
(2) Automatically renews a promotional contract or extends the term without good faith negotiation, or extends the term of any promotional contract of a fighter who participates in a championship contest for a period greater than 12 months beyond the existing contract termination period.
(3) Unreasonably restricts a mixed martial arts fighter from obtaining outside sponsorship from a firm, product or individual.
(4) Requires a mixed martial arts fighter to relinquish all legal claims that the fighter has, or may acquire in the future, against the promoter beyond assumption of the risks Inherent in the sport ofmixed martial arts and the Fighter participation in Pre and Post Bout events and activities.
(5) Requires a fighter to grant or waive any additional rights not contained in the promotional contract as a condition precedent to the fighter’s participation in any Contest.
SEC 3. Section 18849 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:
18849. (a) No promoter, nor any person having a proprietary interest in the promoter, shall have, either directly or indirectly, any proprietary interest in a boxer or martial arts fighter competing on the premises owned, leased, or rented by the promoter without written approval from the commission.
(b) No promoter shall be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with a contest until the promoter provides to the commission the following:
(1) A copy of any agreement in writing to which the promoter is a party with any professional athlete or contestant licensed under this act.
(2) A statement made under penalty of perjury that there are no other agreements, written or oral, between the promoter and the athlete with respect to that contest.
(3) All fees, charges, and expenses that will be assessed by or through the promoter on the athlete participating in the event, including any portion of the athlete’s purse that the promoter will receive.
(4) Any reduction in the athlete’s purse contrary to a previous agreement between the promoter and the athlete.
(c) Neither the commission, nor any person acting on its behalf, may disclose to the public any agreement furnished by a promoter under this section except to the extent required to comply with an order in a legal, administrative or judicial proceeding.
No reimbursement is required the this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article. XIIIB of the California Constitution.
Even more interesting than the proposed amendments are the comments from those both pro-AB2100 and anti-AB2100 about the future of the amendments.
- Mr. (Frank) Shamrock said he disagreed with the UFC over their proposed merchandising agreement that allowed Zuffa, LLC to use his name and likeness “in perpetuity” or forever, on UFC merchandise (and therefore refused to sign their contract containing this term.) This prevented Shamrock from competing in the UFC, despite being a four time defending UFC world champion.
- Eddie Goldman states: “The exploitation of boxers by generations of cigar-chomping fight promoters was so pervasive and well-documented that Congress passed the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act in 2000. With the rise in recent years of mixed martial arts, the cigar-chomping may have become outdated for this new generation of fight promoters, but the exploitation has not. In fact, in the U.S., mixed martial arts fighters today share none of the legal protections boxers have under the Ali Act, and face practices which would have made the old-time boxing promoters swallow their stogies. Among these practices which need changing are: Exclusive and non-public contracts; a perpetually-renewing ‘championship clause’; assigning of certain merchandising rights to promoters in perpetuity with no compensation or remuneration; a system of arbitrary and secret bonuses used as a means of controlling fighters; encouraging fighters to promote racism, sexism, homophobia, and other anti-social values such as disrespect for their opponents as a means of publicizing their fights and manufacturing rivalries; and compensating mixed martial arts fighters with a smaller percentage of gross pay-per-view revenues than boxers receive.”
- The Honda Center (Anaheim Pond) comments: “Large boxing and MMA events are transient by nature and can be held in any big arena in any state or any Country. We fear that the new contract restrictions and un-capped taxes included in your bill will make California an unattractive place to host live events. As a consequence, promoters could very easily choose not to hold their event in California. Rather, promoters may opt to hold events in more economically-friendly environments.”
- HP Pavilion (San Jose Arena) comments: “HP Pavilion at San Jose has hosted 17 MMA events since 2006 and is scheduled to host another event on May 19. In our experience, these events have been a tremendous success and bring a significant economic boost to the South Bay Area and to the California State Athletic Association (CSAC) budget. For example, in our most recent event, UFC 11/19/11, we sold 10,000 tickets for a total live gate of $1.3 million. The thousands of fans that attend MMA events directly invest in San Hose’s restaurants, bars, and hotels. In addition, because HP Pavilion at San Jose is municipally-owned, a successful MMA event has a direct positive economic impact of at least $6 million for the city of San Jose. Further, our UFC event last November contributed $63,000 in revenue to the CSAC budget. Importantly, HP Pavilion at San Jose is also a union operation. Our employees are represented by IATSE, SEIU, IUOE and HERE. When large fights come to HP Pavilion at San Jose, it requires us to employ 300-400 union members for the event.”
- The CSAC is funded through regulatory fees and license fees. In the 2009-10 Fiscal Year, the CSAC’s operating budget was approximately $2.3 million, and there were 14.5 authorized staff positions. In 2010, the CSAC supervised 184 events, including 82 boxing, 72 MMA, 16 kickboxing and 14 muay thai.
- In response to concerns that public disclosure of promotional contracts and merchandising agreements could expose “trade secrets”, the author has provided an amendment to expressly prohibit the CSAC, and any person acting on its behalf, from disclosing to the public any agreement furnished by a promoter under the bill’s terms, except to the extent required to comply with an order in a legal, administrative or judicial proceeding.