80,709 fans went through the turnstiles at WrestleMania 32 last year. This is in contrast to the 101,763 attendance announced live at the event and restated in WWE press releases. The event was held on on April 3, 2016, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
In February WWE CEO Vince McMahon admitted the 101,763 number included "ushers and ticket takers and all of that". Fightful.com learned the number of fans in attendance from the Arlington Police Department. Following the company's Q3 report last July, WWE's publicly-released business documents revealed paid attendance for WrestleMania 32 to be somewhere in the range of 73,111 and 85,888: a range that 80,709 is comfortably within.
Despite WWE's claim it broke the 100,000 mark, the day after WrestleMania 32, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported there were 97,769 "people in the building".
This raises questions as to whether there could really have been 21,000 non-ticket holders in the stadium that night: the number needed to reach 101,763, or 17,000 to reach the Observer's reported total.
Weeks before the event, the Observer reported, on March 9, 2016, that 84,000 tickets for the event were "out" (that is, distributed but not necessarily sold). Having just 80,709 through the turnstiles suggests, if that report was correct, thousands of tickets, either given away or paid for, weren't used.
WWE's own attendance record that it claims WrestleMania 32 broke was that of WrestleMania III in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1987. The attendance for that show, also the subject of controversy, was either 93,179 (according to WWE) or about 78,000 (according to the Observer). It should be noted that it's not uncommon for a wide variety of sports organizations to embellish their attendance figures.
WrestleMania 32's gate of $17.3 million in ticket sales is not under dispute and is the biggest gate in pro wrestling history, by a wide margin.
WWE was contacted to comment on this story but hadn't responded by the time this article was posted.
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