Miami-Dade Sports Commission chair 'relentless' in wrestling showcase bid
By Meena Rupani
Miami-Dade is to learn next February if it's been chosen to host WrestleMania in 2012.
The county made the bid last September to host both the 2011 and 2012 five-day wrestling showcases. Although it lost the 2011 event to Atlanta on Feb. 1, Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz, county sports commission chair, says he's "relentless" in efforts to host this event.
The World Wrestling Entertainment management team felt Miami had too many other sporting events around the same time, such as the Super Bowl, Mr. Diaz said, and felt planning of WrestleMania would have gotten too hectic for the community.
World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., a publicly traded company, is an integrated media organization that held more than 342 wrestling events in 2009, including 74 international events.
Mike Sophia, executive director of the sports commission, proposed to the company to hold WrestleMania Axxess at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the concerts on South Beach, the WrestleMania event itself at what is now Sun Life Stadium, and WWE Monday Night Raw and the hall of fame induction ceremony at AmericanAirlines Arena.
WWE chooses a different host city each year. John Saboor, its senior vice president of special events, and his team sent bid documents to 17 cities and 14 replied with interest in hosting WrestleMania for the upcoming two years.
Prior to joining WWE, Mr. Saboor was president of the Central Florida Sports Commission. He and Orlando Mayor John Hugh "Buddy" Dyer played a pivotal role in convincing WWE to bring WrestleMania XXIV to Orlando. That event generated over $30 million in revenue locally and over $100 million nationally.
"The bid team in Miami headed by Commissioner Diaz did an excellent job of delivering a vision for the event. Miami is an attractive destination with its wonderful infrastructure, restaurants and hotels," Mr. Saboor said.
Present alongside Mr. Diaz were William D. Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, and sports commission board member Jarred Diamond, vice president of booking with AmericanAirlines Arena.
The economic jolt here from hosting WrestleMania could be large.
"An economic impact study was done by the Enigma Research Corp. last year in connection with WrestleMania 25 in Houston," Mr. Saboor said. "The study results estimated that the WrestleMania experience would result in $49.8 million in new spending."
Enigma measures the direct economic impact, taxes generated and employment created through special events.
"We have just commissioned Enigma to conduct the study for WrestleMania 26 held on March 28, 2010, in Glendale/Phoenix," Mr. Saboor added.
Mr. Saboor explained said Atlanta was picked for 2011 "for a number of factors, including their track record of success with large events, rich in its tradition with the WWE, great infrastructure."
"Miami is an attractive prospect because fans here have been amazing in their support for the WWE and destinations are a huge factor when fans decide to travel for the event," Mr. Saboor said. For example, on June 7 AmericanAirlines Arena will once again host WWE Monday Night Raw.
"About 35% of the 70,000 that attend WrestleMania live within a 100 mile radius," he added.
"Whether it be the Super Bowl or WrestleMania, any sporting event will be significant in creating revenue and jobs for the people. What's important to our community is extremely important to us," Commissioner Diaz said.
The sports commission will continue to be active in bidding for the event if Miami loses the bid for 2012, Mr. Diaz added. "We have hosted 10 Super Bowls thus far. No one has yet to accomplish this feat. The bid to host the WrestleMania experience will persist until we are chosen."