Guess what, sports fans? The Super Bowl may not be the biggest ticket in town after all, according to popular wrestling entertainer Triple H.
That designation might instead go to WrestleMania, an annual one-night event featuring matches between some of the most popular wrestlers within World Wrestling Entertainment. And MetLife Stadium is likely to become the show ring for that title when WrestleMania comes to town in April and the real Super Bowl follows in February 2014.
"We’ve outdrawn the Super Bowl for a little while now in the arenas and stadiums that we’ve followed them in for the Super Bowl," Paul Levesque (Triple H’s real moniker) said in a Nov. 8 interview on NYPost.com. "We’ve gone in after [the NFL] and surpassed their ticket sales." Levesque is executive vice president for Talent Relations and Live Events for the Stamford, Conn.-based WWE.
In the context of attendance, Levesque wins this bout.
PolitiFact New Jersey can’t predict the ticket sales outcome for both events at MetLife Stadium, so we looked at six stadiums where WrestleMania was held after a Super Bowl. In five of the six arenas (Pontiac Silverdome, Ford Field, Reliant Stadium, University of Phoenix Stadium and Sun Life Stadium), WrestleMania attendance topped Super Bowl attendance.
Here’s a breakdown by arena:
|U. Phoenix Stadium||71,101||2008||72,219||2010|
|Sun Life Stadium||74,059||2010||78,363||2012|
Sources: World Wrestling Entertainment, NFL’s Super Bowl XLVI 2011 Postseason Media Guide
So why has WrestleMania had better ticket sales than the Super Bowl? Staging. Seats can be added to the field for Wrestlemania events, but not for Super Bowls, possibly giving WrestleMania a capacity advantage.
"The difference between WrestleMania and Super Bowl staging is that WrestleMania has a stage much like a concert so seats behind the stage are unavailable but would be used for football," Kevin Hennessy, WWE senior director of publicity, said in an e-mail. "However, for WrestleMania, seats are added to field level which would not be done for football. That is why we feel justified in making the comparison."
That was the case at Glendale, Ariz.’s University of Phoenix Stadium, where temporary seats were added for WrestleMania in 2010, spokesman Scott Norton said.
And New Jerseyans have a reason to care about ticket sales when both events come to MetLife Stadium: ticket sales equal economic impact.
"According to the NY/NJ Super Bowls Host Committee (headed by CEO Al Kelly) approximately 150,000 out-of-town visitors will attend non-game events and that the region will have approximately 400,000 people total who will attend events related to Super Bowl activities that are not the actual Super Bowl game," Wayne Hasenbalg, president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, said in an e-mail.
"According to a SMRI (Sports Management Research Institute) economic study, the recent Super Bowl in Indianapolis (XLVI) had a $155 million economic impact on the central Indiana region," Hasenbalg continued. "The SMRI estimates $550 million in regional economic impact for our Super Bowl (XLVIII)."
The SMRI did not return a call for comment.
WrestleMania 28’s economic impact on Miami this past April totaled $103 million, according to a report assessing the event’s financial impact on that city.
WWE executive Paul Levesque, better known by his stage name Triple H, said in a recent interview that "we’ve outdrawn the Super Bowl for a little while now in the arenas and stadiums that we’ve followed them in for the Super Bowl. We’ve gone in after [the NFL] and surpassed their ticket sales."
In terms of attendance, Levesque is largely correct: WrestleMania sold more tickets than the Super Bowl in five of the six stadiums where WrestleMania was held after a Super Bowl. It's worth noting, however, that since WrestleMania's staging is similar to a concert's, field seating may be added to compensate for lost seating behind the WrestleMania stage.
Levesque’s claim rates Mostly True.
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