WWE WrestleMania: Examining the Evolution of the Event as a Tourist Attraction

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterMarch 15, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: Vince McMahon attends a press conference to announce that WWE Wrestlemania 29 will be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

In its 29 years of existence, Vince McMahon's brainchild, WrestleMania, has grown tremendously, going from experiment to empire.

What began as a groundbreaking event with great financial risk now pumps more than $100 million into a city's pockets thanks to the impact of the tourists there to see WrestleMania.

Ultimate Warrior said it perfectly in this video, when he told fans, "What the WWE continues to do year after year in making WrestleMania bigger, better, grander, bigger than any other event... it's exciting, it's fun."

The first WrestleMania had a crowd of 19,121 in attendance. WrestleMania 28 hosted 78,363 fans.

WrestleMania’s evolution is about more than the increased size of the crowds the day of the event though. The pay-per-view itself is no longer the sole focus. WrestleMania is more than a single show; it's a whole weekend of events that impacts a city much in the way a Super Bowl does.

People from all over the world swarm to the host city for an event which is increasingly fan-friendly.

WrestleMania is now preceded by WrestleMania Axxess weekend.

This is a chance for fans to go beyond just watching matches and performances. Here, they get a much more hands-on experience, making their trip from home far more worth it.

WWE.com lists a dizzying number of events for WrestleMania XXVIII's Axxess weekend.

Fans could choose between a Money in the Bank photo-op, memorabilia displays, autograph signing sessions and Q&As with WWE Superstars.

The first WrestleMania didn't have any of that.

In 1985, McMahon was more in the mode of convincing people that his idea was worth seeing. He brought in celebrities like Muhammad Ali, Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper to bring attention to his new concept.

It was then the biggest event pro wrestling has ever seen. It would have been difficult to fathom just how immense it would eventually become.

It's now the most anticipated event of the year for pro wrestling fans across the country.

Check out the video a fan took of WrestleMania Axxess 2012.

WWE has essentially turned this into a traveling Hall of Fame. Fans can soak in the impressive memorabilia collection, and well before The Show of Shows actually starts. That and the opportunity to take photos with and get autographs from one's favorite stars makes the event that much more worth traveling to.

It's no wonder cities are now so pumped to have WrestleMania come their way

After Glendale hosted WrestleMania XXVI, The University of Phoenix Stadium website posted this:

WWE's premiere event was an important addition to Glendale's tourism industry and position as a leading sports and entertainment destination.  The $45 million boost created by WWE's fantastic fans makes Wrestlemania a valuable economic attraction for every community host.

This is only going to be increasingly true, as cities realize the financial impact having WrestleMania in their backyard can have.

WrestleMania has even stretched beyond the confines of WWE itself.

Several other pro wrestling promotions are headed to the New Jersey area this April to feed on and expand the WrestleMania crowd. Tourists will have even more reason to travel to the site of WrestleMania 28 and stay longer.

Independents start as early as Thursday when Pro Wrestling Syndicate puts on its first day of "Super Card 2013.”

Chikara, Ring of Honor, TNA, Dragon Gate USA and just about every U.S. wrestling company you can think of will be putting on a show that weekend.

That is a tradition that could itself grow should the congregation of fans make the trip worth it for those promotions.

WrestleMania will then evolve further as a tourist destination.

It will become much more than a spectacle-heavy show. It will be an annual celebration of wrestling.

This is what WWE fans save their money for the whole year. This is their dream vacation regardless of the location.

When WrestleMania XXX comes to New Orleans next year, expect a bigger crowd of people to gather there. Beyond the championship matches, the grudges being settled in the ring, WrestleMania will be an unofficial national holiday, an economic force as powerful as a piledriver.