WrestleMa­nia re­ally packs

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Jay Red­dick Staff Writer

a prof­itable punch, ac­cord­ing to a study that pegs its eco­nomic im­pact at $181 mil­lion.

Or­lando Mayor Buddy Dyer typ­i­cally keeps a WWE cham­pi­onship belt on dis­play in a meet­ing room at City Hall.

And no won­der — the pro­fes­sional wrestling com­pany has meant a lot to the city fi­nan­cially.

The WWE’s sig­na­ture event, WrestleMa­nia, added $181.5 mil­lion in eco­nomic im­pact to Cen­tral Florida dur­ing six days of fes­tiv­i­ties last spring, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults of an in­de­pen­dent study re­leased to­day by WWE and the mayor’s of­fice.

“The num­ber ac­tu­ally ex­ceeded our ex­pec­ta­tions,” Dyer said. “We went in ex­pect­ing $130 to 150 mil­lion based on prior years. But $181 mil­lion is huge for our com­mu­nity and it re­ally shows that WrestleMa­nia has been one of our sig­nif­i­cant events in Cen­tral Florida.”

The cen­ter­piece of the week, WrestleMa­nia 33 at Camp­ing World Sta­dium, drew an an­nounced crowd of 75,245 Apr. 2 — a sta­dium record — but that was only one of dozens of events that took over the city. Sell­out crowds at­tended four sep­a­rate events at Amway Cen­ter, while fan fes­ti­vals and com­mu­nity events fea­tur­ing WWE su­per­stars at­tracted at­ten­tion all week.

WrestleMa­nia was a hit with the lo­cals, but it also drew heav­ily from out­side the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to the study con­ducted by the Enigma Re­search Com­mis­sion. 79 per­cent of fans came from out­side Cen­tral Florida, a crowd that spanned all 50 states and 62 coun­tries. Vis­i­tors spent $24.8 mil­lion on ac­com­mo­da­tions, av­er­ag­ing 5.6 nights here.

John Sa­boor, the WWE’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of spe­cial events, said the av­er­age length of stay was key to the to­tal, the high­est in the 11 years the pro­mo­tion has com­mis­sioned the im­pact study. For the first time at WrestleMa­nia, WWE added a sixth day of live events, in­clud­ing an Apr. 4 Smack­down Live TV tap­ing at Amway Cen­ter.

“The length of stay is dis­pro­por­tion­ately larger than our other ma­jor event con­tem­po­raries and that was one of the most dra­matic in­creases in the study.” said Sa­boor, for­mer pres­i­dent of Cen­tral Florida Sports Com­mis­sion. “We were ex­cited to make Smack­down Live a part of the week and it was a big part of the ap­peal for our fans.”

Dyer said he was pleased the study showed nearly one-third of WrestleMa­nia at­ten­dees came from out­side the United States. “That’s a num­ber that I don’t even know if other events like the World Cup [soc­cer qual­i­fier on Oct. 6] can match.” Other find­ings: $24.8 mil­lion was spent on ho­tels and ac­com­mo­da­tions.

$9.3 mil­lion was spent by vis­i­tors to Or­lando at area restau­rants.

More than $7 mil­lion was spent on theme parks and en­ter­tain­ment.

WrestleMa­nia’s first visit to Or­lando in 2008 brought $50 mil­lion to the lo­cal econ­omy, but that in­cluded only two wrestling shows and a smaller fan fes­ti­val.

Or­lando has be­come some­thing of a sec­ond home for the pro­mo­tion in re­cent years with the open­ing of the WWE Per­for­mance Cen­ter train­ing fa­cil­ity in east Or­lando and the es­tab­lish­ment of the NXT de­vel­op­men­tal brand, which pro­motes shows at Full Sail Univer­sity in Win­ter Park. And Dyer said he told WWE ex­ec­u­tive Stephanie McMa­hon that Or­lando “should be in a ro­ta­tion every four or five years.”

As for that cham­pi­onship belt, which Dyer re­ceived from WWE in March, the mayor said it typ­i­cally re­sides in a dis­play case near his of­fice in City Hall.

“I know they’re sold at re­tail for a hand­some price,” Dyer said.


WrestleMa­nia 33 brought a record crowd of 75,245 fans to Or­lando’s Camp­ing World Sta­dium in April, and an in­flux of cash from an­cil­lary events.

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