Miami-Dade finalist to land WrestleMania in 2011 or 2012
By Scott E. Pacheco
Miami-Dade Sports Commission officials should learn within a month whether they've locked in World Wrestling Entertainment's WrestleMania for 2011 or 2012.
The annual five-day showcase's estimated impact is $50 million in direct spending alone, at marquee venues including the Miami Beach Convention Center, AmericanAirlines Arena and LandShark Stadium.
"There's so much power behind it — it's the size basically of a Super Bowl," said José "Pepe" Diaz, sports commission chair. "To us it's huge; financially it's incredible."
The sports commission bid for the event "a couple months ago," Mr. Diaz said, and last week met in Stamford, CT, with World Wrestling Entertainment — known as WWE — Chairman Vince McMahon and his board as a finalist to land WrestleMania, said Mike Sophia, sports commission executive director.
Mr. Sophia said he didn't know officially what other cities are in the running but about 15 to 20 were initially considered. WWE officials already have made a South Florida site visit.
"We're pushing really hard for 2011," he said.
Of the 75,000 attendees, about 60%, or 45,000, are expected to travel more than 100 miles, Mr. Sophia said. Though no formal study was made of economic impact, he said, the figure was calculated "based on ticket sales and other data that we and WWE have collected."
This year's WrestleMania XXV at the beginning of April in Houston at Reliant Stadium, home to the National Football League's Houston Texans, was a boon to the local economy, a top tourism official there said.
"Having the opportunity to host the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania was a huge honor and success," said Greg Ortale, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, via e-mail. "So far, the event ranks as the third highest attended event at Houston's Reliant Stadium, attracting attendees from all over the world."
Mr. Sophia listed several elements to the WrestleMania experience planned for Miami:
—WrestleMania Axxess, an interactive fan experience, probably would be at the convention center.
—South Beach would probably host concerts.
—LandShark Stadium would host the signature WrestleMania.
—AmericanAirlines Arena would probably host Monday Night Raw, a weekly televised wrestling event on USA Network, and a hall of fame induction ceremony.
It would be the first visit for WrestleMania to Miami, said Mr. Diaz, also a Miami-Dade commissioner, who lauded officials for "thinking outside of the box."
"These are the things we need to keep doing," he said.
In delivering a pitch to WWE, Mr. Diaz and Mr. Sophia were joined by William D. Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and sports commission board member, and Jarred Diamond, vice president of booking with AmericanAirlines Arena. The sports commission made the bid.
"We pitched our best game," Mr. Diaz said. "We're the gateway of the Americas. I think it'll be good for WrestleMania just like it's good for the Super Bowl. We're a world-class place and we have so much going on for us."