WrestleMania 31, Levi's Stadium and the Evolution of WWE's Marquee Event

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WrestleMania 31, Levi's Stadium and the Evolution of WWE's Marquee Event
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Vince McMahon

After initially being reported by both NBC Bay Area and Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer (F4WOnline.com subscribers-only link), WWE.com has officially announced that WrestleMania 31 in 2015 is going to be held at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.  Scheduled to open this Summer and located right on the border of Santa Clara and San Jose, Levi's Stadium will be the home of the NFL's San Franscico 49ers starting next season.

Levi's Stadium is also the host of Super Bowl 50 in 2016.  This will be the second time in three years that WrestleMania runs a new stadium the year before the Super Bowl, as WrestleMania 29 this year was at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (across the Hudson River from New York City), which hosts the Super Bowl this February.

In the NBC Bay Area article, it was noted that San Jose/Santa Clara beat out a bid from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to host WrestleMania at Lincoln Financial Field.  While personally, I'd love another WrestleMania in the northeast, two years after New York/New Jersey would be too soon.

One thing that's become very clear in the last few years is that WrestleMania is never, ever returning to a basketball/hockey arena setting.  Starting with WrestleMania 23 in Detroit at Ford Field, WrestleMania has been in a stadium ever year.

The reason for the change is pretty simple: Cities and states now bid for WrestleMania because it provides such a large economic impact.  While WWE could theoretically scale an arena with ticket prices that come close to giving them a stadium-level gate, the bidding governments need the stadium size groups of fans pumping money into the local economy.

This means that, as fans probably realized in the last year or so, WrestleMania is likely never returning to Madison Square Garden in New York City.  As WWE's long-time home arena and the host of the first WrestleMania, it also served as the site of WrestleMania 10 and 20.  With WrestleMania 29 in the New York market and WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans, WWE signaled that the stadium era is here to stay.

The NBC Bay Area article also noted that Arlington, Texas's AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, will host WrestleMania 32.  While WWE hasn't commented on it yet, it was sort of an inevitability that WrestleMania would be held at the biggest and best stadium in the country soon enough.  NCAA basketball and other commitments conflicted with WrestleMania for a few years, which is why it didn't happen earlier.

One more thing worth nothing is that each year, the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony is tailored to the local market more than any other WrestleMania weekend event.  While it's far from the only criteria that dictates who goes in, it's the only reliable one, so now we've got a good three years' worth of inductees to speculate about:

  • 2014 in New Orleans: Many of the biggest stars of Mid-South Wrestling/Tri-State Wrestling, like Junkyard Dog and "Cowboy" Bill Watts, are already in the HOF.  The one wrestler I really hope is inducted is 81 year-old amateur and pro wrestling legend Danny Hodge.  While his fame mostly came in the Oklahoma section of the territory, WrestleMania isn't going there, so this is the year to induct him.
  • 2015 in San Jose:  The late Ray "The Crippler" Stevens is more likely of those who are missing.  I would guess that long-time tag team partner Pat Patterson would both induct Stevens and accept for him, as the other speakers who would fit are either deceased (ex-wife Teresa Theis, the wrestler who trained him) or too ill to speak at the ceremony (manager Bobby Heenan and his other tag team partner Nick Bockwinkel).
  • 2016 in Dallas: The Von Erich family is already in, and most other Dallas stars aren't likely to go in, so this is likely when they throw a bone to Michael Hayes and induct the Fabulous Freebirds.

What does everyone think of the announcements?  Do you think WWE should have picked Philadelphia?  What cities appeal to you as travel destinations to WrestleMania?  Who do you see as future Hall of Fame inductees?  Let us know in the comments.

David Bixenspan has been Bleacher Report's WWE Team Leader and a contracted columnist since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @davidbix and check out his wrestling podcasts at LLTPod.com.

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