Zuffa spending to get Florida bill passed

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Zuffa has been lobbying for a Florida bill that would change what they are required to report to the commission.

The other day I requested from the Florida State Boxing Commission some information regarding the UFC on FOX 11 event that was held in Orlando on April 19.

The first item I asked for and receive was the letters of agreement between the fighters and promoter, which includes the agreed upon number of rounds, weight limit, name of the opponent, and pay for the services rendered.

The complete list of fighter payouts they provided me is as follows:

Fabricio Werdum: $125,000 to show/$50,000 to win

Travis Browne: $50,000 to show/ $50,000 to win

Miesha Tate: $28,000 to show/$28,000 to win

Liz Carmouche: $17,000 to show/$17,000 to win

Donald Cerrone: $57,000 to show/ $57,000 to win

Edson Barboza: $29,000 to show/$29,000 to win

Yoel Romero: $25,000 to show/$25,000 to win

Brad Tavares: $19,000 to show/$19,000 to win

Khabib Nurmagomedov: $32,000 to show/$32,000 to win

Rafael dos Anjos: $21,000 to show/$21,000 to win

Thiago Alves: $39,000 to show/$39,000 to win

Seth Baczynski: $20,000 to show/$20,000 to win

Jorge Masvidal: $39,000 to show/$39,000 to win

Pat Healy: $25,000 to show/$25,000 to win

Alex White: $8,000 to show/$8,000 to win

Estevan Payan: $10,000 to show/$10,000 to win

Caio Magalhaes: $12,000 to show/$12,000 to win

Luke Zachrich: $8,000 to show/$8,000 to win

Jordan Mein: $18,000 to show/$18,000 to win

Hernani Perpetuo: $8,000 to show/$8,000 to win

Dustin Ortiz: $10,000 to show/$10,000 to win

Ray Borg : $8,000 to show/$8,000 to win

Mirsad Bektic: $8,000 to show/$8,000 to win

Chas Skelly: $8,000 to show/$8,000 to win

Derrick Lewis: $8,000 to show/$8,000 to win

Jack May: $8,000 to show/$8,000 to win

In addition to fighters' pay, which is the California and Nevada State Athletic Commissions also releases when requested by the public, I received a form that detailed the gross amount of sales at the event for "souvenirs, programs & concessions, less state and federal taxes." This amount was $522,383.35 for which the UFC was required to pay a tax of $26,119.17  to the Florida State Boxing Commission.

Another document given to me by the commission revealed that the UFC sold $1,553,737.50 worth of tickets at the Amway Center. (Again less any state or federal taxes.) From those sales the UFC was required to make a tax payment of $77,686.88 to the commission. They also had to pay a tax of $6,152.40 on the value of complimentary tickets that were issued.

This same doc also revealed that the UFC had listed a "broadcast, television or motion rights" payment of $2,272,000. The tax for this is also at 5% percent of the total gross receipts exclusive of any federal taxes, but since it is not to exceed $40,000 for a single event, that is the amount the UFC had to pay.

Since the UFC has only visited Florida one other time in the last five years, and because other commissions either do not collect this information or share it with the public, what the Florida State Boxing Commission provided me represents one of the few glimpses fans and even fighters get into the UFC's business. The question is though, will Florida provide it in the future?

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Zuffa has contributed to the Republican Governor's Association, (RGA) which in turn wrote a $2.5 million check to current Florida Gov. Rick Scott's campaign.

Several of those contributors regularly interact with Scott's administration or are hoping for the Republican governor's help in the future. Among them:

-- Zuffa LLC, the parent company of Ultimate Fighting Championship, which gave $100,000 to the RGA on Jan. 10. Zuffa is currently lobbying the Florida Legislature this spring to rewrite boxing and mixed-martial art regulations and to exempt some of its fight records from the state's public-records law. If they pass, Scott will have to decide whether to sign or veto them.

The Orlando Sentinel also mentioned that the Fertittas' Station Casinos likewise donated $100,000 on January 10.

Jason Floyd at the MMA Report posted an article last week detailing Zuffa's lobbying efforts in the state of Florida, where State Senator Bill Galvano has sponsored senate bill 808 that would change the current regulations and limit the amount of information that boxing and MMA promoters would have to disclose.

So what exactly is this bill 808 that Zuffa seems so interested in not only seeing passed but signed into law by Gov. Scott? You can find the full text of the bill on the Florida Senate website but I've excerpted a portion here:

47 Section 2. The Legislature finds that it is a public
48 necessity that proprietary confidential business information be
49 protected from disclosure. The disclosure of proprietary
50 confidential business information could injure a promoter in the
51 marketplace by giving the promoter's competitors insights into
52 its financial status and business plan, thereby putting the
53 promoter at a competitive disadvantage. The Legislature also
54 finds that the harm to a promoter in disclosing proprietary
55 confidential business information significantly outweighs any
56 public benefit derived from disclosure of the information. For
57 these reasons, the Legislature declares that any proprietary
58 confidential business information provided in the written report

An ammendment to the bill would also allow a promoter to issue more than five percent of seats in the house as complimentary tickets and not have them included in gross receipts for taxation purposes.

While obviously Zuffa will benefit if it does not have to pay taxes on additional complimentary tickets, I suspect the main reason behind their support is that it prevents the disclosure of "proprietary confidential business information," which the bill defines as "information controlled by the promoter, which a promoter intends to be private in that the disclosure of the information would cause harm to the promoter or its business operations." bill analysis lists what would be covered under "proprietary confidential business information":

(a) The number of ticket sales for a match.

(b) The amount of gross receipts after a match.

(c) Trade secrets as defined by s. 688.002, F.S.

(d) Business plans.

(e) Internal auditing controls and reports of internal auditors

(f) External auditors' reports.

Included amongst these internal audits are television license fees and pay-per-view sales.

Finally, the bill removes the reporting requirements for the sale or lease of broadcasting, television, and pay-per-view rights of any match held in Florida, if the promoter pays the maximum tax of $40,000 for a single event.

The Muhammed Ali Boxing Reform Act mandates

that promoters

"advise the boxer of the revenues gained by the promoter from the event." The reasoning behind this is not insignificant.

The disclosure of the total revenue a promoter has amassed for a particular bout is an important provision because it removes a significant portion of the promoter's power during future negotiations by allowing the boxer to know exactly how much a bout is worth to the promoter, thus enabling a boxer to negotiate larger purses for himself.

Currently Florida statutes are in compliance with the Ali Act, but this new bill, in including both promoters of boxing and MMA, would seemingly come in conflict with it. Perhaps the thinking is that since boxing is covered by Federal law boxing promoters would still have to comply, in which case what is really being passed is an exemption for MMA promoters only in the state of Florida.

(I also received documents from the Florida State Boxing Commission regarding the UFC's June 8th, 2012 show. The docs are linked below.)

UFC 06-08-12

Tax

Contracts

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