Later this month, the WWE are expected to announce the location for WrestleMania 30. At the time of publishing, the clever money says it’ll be the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the home of the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Home of WrestleMania 30?
But, whilst the Superdome is the current favourite, what are the other possibilities, both likely and adventurous? In this article, we’ll take a look some other potential locations for WrestleMania 30.
Madison Square Garden
Location: New York City, New York
Maximum Capacity: 22,292
Current Use: As well as being the home ground of both the New York Knicks basketball team and the New York Rangers ice hockey team, “The Garden” is home to women’s basketball team New York Liberty and college basketball team St’ John’s Red Storm. Aside from team sports, the legendary venue continues to play host to countless concerts, stand up comedians, theatre productions and boxing matches. It is the third most visited music venue in the world, and the most visited in the Americas.
History: Whilst arenas have stood on this site since the 1870’s, the current Garden was built in 1968 and stands over Pennsylvania Station, one of the main Manhattan hubs where New York’s subway lines meet the East Coast’s overhead train lines. The arena is the oldest sporting facility left standing in New York City and, along with it’s current tenants, it’s been the home ground of one lacrosse team (New York Titans) and two arena-football teams (New York Knights and New York CityHawks).
Wrestling History: M.S.G., as it’s often known, has hosted three previous WrestleManias (one, ten and twenty) along with three SummerSlams (1988, 1991 and 1998), three Survivor Series (1996, 2002 and 2011) and two Royal Rumbles (2000 and 2008). Both Vince McMahon, and his father, Vince McMahon Sr., are members of the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame. During the WWWF’s heyday in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the company completely sold out The Garden 187 times.
Why They Will: If anywhere on Earth is home to the WWWF, WWF and WWE, it’s Madison Square Garden. Out of respect, the Garden refused to host shows for the WWF’s bitter rival, WCW, and every tenth WrestleMania has been hosted at this prestigious venue as both a mark of mutual respect, and as an appreciation for the history of wrestling in the Atlantic north-east, and the WWE’s personal history with the city of New York. Any venue choice other than the garden would be seen as a dramatic and overt break in tradition, especially during a period when WWE’s relations with it’s traditional fan base is already strained more than ever before.
Why They Won’t: The Garden is the only arena appearing on the list and, as such, it’s by far the smallest candidate. Even if the WWE sold every seat in the building, WrestleMania 30 would still have the lowest attendance of any WrestleMania since 2006. Considering the WWE’s rampant and occasionally brutal re-writing of their own history in recent years, the allure of money and attention might prove significantly more powerful than the allure of tradition and old loyalties.
Location: Arlington, Texas
Maximum Capacity: 130,000
Current Use: Home of the Dallas Cowboys American football team.
History: Opened in 2009, Cowboys Stadium was purpose built for the team it shares it’s name with, but as since expanded it’s role to host numerous high level football games including five college football tournament finals and the SuperBowl. As well as football, the stadium has been used for basketball, hosting the 2010 NBA All-Star game, and it is scheduled to host the national college basketball final in 2014. More recently, the stadium has turned it’s attention to soccer, hosting an international friendly between Mexico and Brazil in 2012 as well as three matches in the North and Central American equivalent of the Euros; Costa Rica vs. Cuba and Mexico vs. El Salvador in 2011 and Costa Rica vs. Guadeloupe in 2009. During the friendly season, the stadium becomes the unofficial home ground of Mexico City’s Club America, and it’s here that they’ve played friendlies against top level European teams like Barcelona and Chelsea
Outside of the more popular sports, Cowboys Stadium has hosted music concerts, boxing matches and political rallies (including a famously controversial semi-religious rally organised by former FOX News psychopath Glenn Beck).
Wrestling History: None
Why They Will: The WWE, in recent years, have become somewhat obsessed with facts about themselves, especially ones they can use to show off. One of their favourites is gloating about (usually fabricated) attendance figures. The current record for WrestleMania is the almost certainly exaggerated claim of 93,173 for WrestleMania 3. That record stood as the biggest indoor sporting attendance in world history until is was broken by the 108,713 fans who turned out to see the 210 NBA All-Star Game at, where else, Cowboys Stadium
Why They Won’t: WrestleMania has been somewhat South-heavy in recent years. WrestleMania 29, in East Rutherford, New Jersey (aka; New York City, New York in Vince’s head), will be the first ‘Mania north of the Mason-Dixon since 2007. On top of that, the WWE were only recently in Texas when they visited Houston in 2009 for WrestleMania 25. That may still be a nine year gap, but that would still mark the fifth fastest return to a previously visited state in WrestleMania history (the current record is shared by New York and New Jersey, both of which hosted back-to-back WrestleManias in 1985 and 1986 and 1988 and 1989 respectively. After that comes California with the two five year gaps between WrestleMania 2 in 1986, WrestleMania 7 in 1991 and WrestleMania 12 in 1996, and then Texas, with the eight year gap between WrestleMania 17 in 2001 and WrestleMania 25 in 2009).
Location: Pontiac, Michigan
Maximum Capacity: 82,000
Current Use: Home of the Detroit Mechanix ultimate frisbee team as well as a popular venue for music concerts, boxing matches and soccer games.
History: Opened in 1975, the stadium was originally constructed as the home for Detroit Lions American football team. The Lions stayed at the Silverdome for over 25 years before leaving for their current stadium, Ford Field, in 2001. Through-out it’s history, the Silverdome has also been the home ground for the Detroit Pistons basketball team. The stadium also hosted a match in the 1994 FIFA World Cup between the United States and Switzerland and the 1982 SuperBowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals.
After the departure of the Lions, it looked like time was up for the Silverdome, the stadium closed it’s doors in 2006. In 2009, the venue was sold to a Canadian property company, and the former football stadium reopened in 2010 as a general-purpose events arena. The new owners are currently looking to start a Detroit based soccer team who can use the stadium as a home ground.
Wrestling History: The stadium hosted WrestleMania 3 in 1987, setting the current pro-wrestling attendance record for the entire world of 93,173.
Why They Will: Of the last five WrestleManias, none have been held in what would be considered the north of the United States. This has a lot to do with regional preferences. Baseball is the predominant sport of the north, compared to American football in the south and, as such, there’s a pretty large discrepancy in the styles of stadium. The WWE has always preferred football stadiums, and, if it’s large football stadiums you want, the south is the place to be. The last four WrestleManias have taken place at the homes of the Atlanta Falcons, the Arizona Cardinals, the Houston Texans and the Miami Dolphins, all top, top level American football teams and the next WrestleMania will be at the home of both the New York Giants and the New York Jets; The MetLife Stadium.
If the WWE want to spread the love a little more by hosting WrestleMania 30 in the north, but still want to stick to a football stadium, they come into a problem. Virtually all of the big northern teams are concentrated on the east coast. The travel time from the Washington Redskins (the southern most north-east team) to the New England Patriots (the northern most north-east team) is a mere eight hour drive, which is nothing in American terms. It’s even less when you consider that the MetLife is virtually exactly in the middle of the two; four hours north from Washington and four hours south from Boston. Because of this relatively tight geography, holding WrestleMania 30 on the east-coast would result in it having almost the exact same fan base as WrestleMania 29, which, along with being a little unfair, would also be more than a little boring.
To keep WrestleMania in the north and in a football stadium, but away from the Atlantic coast takes you into the midwest, and towards the two major cities of the midwest; Chicago and Detroit.
Chicago has become something of a key market for the WWE recently, especially with the rise of home-town hero CM Punk, and, as such, the city has been absolutely saturated with WWE shows over the past few years. Detroit, on the other hand, has been somewhat ignored. This probably has a lot to do with Detroit itself; a slowly decaying ghost town, a tragic monument to the death of American industrialism, and the murder of middle-America. It’s not exactly a tourist hot-spot, but, at the same time, that’s what makes it most appealing.
The WWE likes a story, especially a story it can rampantly boast about in front of people for the next million years. Think about how many times they’ve aroused themselves with talk of being the first live show since 9/11, as if Vince McMahon personally defeated terrorism. What a story to say that it was the WWE and, most importantly, that it was the McMahon family who came marching into the forgotten wastelands of Michigan and saved Motor City.
Long live the WWE, saviours of the manifest destiny.
Why They Won’t: That’s all pretty optimistic. Fact of the matter remains, Detroit isn’t a great place to be right now; personally or financially. Hosting an event with the size and importance of WrestleMania is a city so controversial could carry huge P.R. rewards were the event a success, but there would still be a huge risk of people simply not turning up, and the local infrastructure not being able to cope with an influx of tourists.
It’s also probably slightly optimistic to assume that the WWE are interest in touring WrestleMania to as wide an audience as possible. The biggest show in wrestling history hasn’t touched the west-coast in seven years, the north-east in eight years, and hasn’t left America in ten years. WWE knows where it’s key audience is; in the urban, largely ethnic areas of the south and south-east, and, with the economy still down and wrestling not exactly being the hot-topic right now, it’s unlikely that a company so currently conservative in it’s business risks as the WWE would be willing to take a risk as large as playing their best hand in the most economically unstable major city in America.
Location: New York City, New York
Maximum Capacity: 54,251
Current Use: Home of the New York Yankees baseball team and popular venue for boxing matches, political rallies, college football games, music concerts and, most recently, soccer games.
History: The current Yankee stadium is a new arrival, having only opened it’s doors for the first time in 2009, but the history of the name “Yankee Stadium” goes back almost 100 years, when the first Yankee Stadium, known to New Yorkers as “The House that Babe Built”, was opened in 1923. Since that day, both stadiums have been the home ground of the New York Yankees baseball team.
At a cost of over $1.5 billion, Yankee Stadium is the second most expensive stadium in the world.
Wrestling History: None
Why They Will: There’s no dispute, historically, WrestleMania 30 MUST take place in Madison Square Garden. It’s tradition, it’s history. At the same time, we can all see what WrestleMania is, especially in relation to every other wrestling show that particularly year, has changed. WrestleMania isn’t the most important show, it’s the ONLY important show, and, with that in mind, maybe the Garden really is too small.
So here’s the compromise.
New York City isn’t exactly famed for it’s large football venues, which is why both of the city’s football teams play their home games in neighbouring New Jersey. New York’s game of choice is baseball, and it’s team of choice is the New York Yankees.
If no venue says “New York” more than Madison Square Garden, then no team says “New York” more than the Yankees; the team of Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez. If the WWE want to skip MSG, but don’t want to offend traditionalists (or the state of New York), then Yankee Stadium, in turns of iconic New York-ness, is easily the most obvious replacement.
All the tradition of a New York WrestleMania, all the prestige of a world famous stadium and over twice as many seats as the Garden.
Why They Won’t: The problems are three fold, and one is instantly obvious; Yankee Stadium and the MetLife are extremely close to each other. By car, the journey would take less than half an hour on a good day. In terms of geography, that would make WrestleMania 29 and WrestleMania 30 the closest subsequent WrestleMania’s since WrestleMania 5 in 1989 (which was at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, the same venue as WrestleMania 4 the previous year). It would also be the first time bordering states have hosted subsequent WrestleMania’s since 2007 (when the event was held in Michigan, who’s neighbour, Illinois, hosted the year before).
The second problem is Yankee Stadium itself. The last time a WrestleMania was held in a baseball stadium was WrestleMania 19 in 2003. This is most likely to do with the layout of baseball stadiums.
Unlike American football, basketball or ice hockey, where the action is just as likely to take place on one part of the pitch as it is anywhere else, baseball is a static game where the point of interest is almost entirely concentrated on the home plate (where the batter stands). The stadiums are designed accordingly, which the vast majority of seating being in that one corner, whilst the opposite corner has comparatively less seating and, in some smaller stadiums, actually has no seating at all. By the home plate, Yankee Stadium has four tiers of seating. The opposite corner has only one. The result is a slightly jarring visual effect as a third of the stadium simply vanishes.
The third problem is noise. Many people have criticised recent WrestleMania’s for being too quiet, a side effect of open air stadiums compared to the more familiar arena based shows. If you thought sound escaping was bad in a football stadium, wait until you hear it in a baseball stadium. The size of a baseball field, and the erratic movement of the baseballs themselves mean that baseball stadiums tend to be wide open squares, with relatively low walls in relation to their surface area and absolutely no roofing, even over the crowd. The result, whilst beneficial for a game of baseball, is that all crowd noise instantly escapes, and the distance between fan sections make any sort of chants or arena-atmosphere impossible.
Location: London, England
Maximum Capacity: 80,000
Current Use: None
History: Opened in 2011 as the central arena of the 2012 Olympic Games, this stadium, located in Stratford, East London is England’s third biggest stadium. It’s future, however, is unclear, although the most likely result appears to be that the stadium will become the home-ground for local soccer team West Ham United.
Wrestling History: None
Why They Will: If the WWE are ever going to take WrestleMania out of North America, this is the time. The Olympic Stadium is, without contest, currently the most famous stadium on earth.
This years Olympic Games went almost unrealistically perfectly and the event was a smash hit in the U.S.
In terms of publicity, no other venue in the world would generate more publicity for the WWE than Stratford City, it’s almost too perfect, the “greatest show on earth” at the most important stadium on earth. If the WWE can get it, it would be a smash hit. Attendance figures outside of the US are always ridiculously higher than average, so selling out 80,000 seats would be easy for a show as high-profile as WrestleMania. Hell, given the novelty factor, and the higher cost of living in London, WWE would be free to even jack up the ticket prices.
Publicity, spectacle, huge audiences, millions of dollars. What’s the catch?
Why They Won’t: Last year’s WrestleMania sold around 1.2 million pay-per-views, a hugely impressive number. Of that number, over 700,000 buys came from America or Canada and about 500,000 everywhere else. That means most of the WWE’s money is coming from the Americas, and, considering that part of that 500,000 for the rest of the world includes South America, the over all pan-American butyrate is even higher that 700,000.
And here lies the problem. Taped pay-per-views have never, ever done well. The idea of the WWE taping their biggest show of the year, the one trump card they have left in an ever dwindling deck is unthinkable, it simply won’t happen. In the age of forums, and twitter, and illegal live streams, a buy rate would be massively reduced. The only successful pay-per-view is a live pay-per-view.
Again, a problem.
WWE pay-per-views start, on the East Coast of America, at 8pm. For the WWE to compensate for the time difference, they’d have to schedule the London based show to start at 1am, which would, given British live event law, be illegal. So should the WWE switch to British time, folding the event at 8pm GMT? Well, there, again, you have issues. An 8pm start in London means a 3pm start in New York, and, even more unsustainably, a midday start in Los Angeles.
WWE knows it’s audience. It knows the amount of people who watch pay-per-views alone is minuscule. For a start, they’re too expensive, and secondly, that’s a bit weird. The WrestleMania party is a well known and well loved tradition, and no one has a party at midday in Los Angeles.
You may say, “Well, who cares about Los Angeles?” and the answer to that would be, “The WWE do”. Los Angeles is the second biggest city on a continent that makes up around 60% of all of WrestleMania’s pay-per-view buys.
Short of revolutionising the pay-per-view business (again), the WWE will have a tough time pulling off a European show on a pay-per-view format, especially a show as vital as WrestleMania.