There was a time, not all that long ago, that wrestling fans had to watch WrestleMania to find out who was hosting the next year's event. There was no information about it anywhere. You'd just watch the pay-per-view, and somewhere during the broadcast, you'd see a commercial for next year, revealing the host city and the date.
Things have certainly changed these days. Now, we'll find out who is hosting WrestleMania well over a year in advance, as well as finding out who are the finalists for the year after that. It's big business, with cities putting bids in to boost their local economy and placing a large spotlight on themselves.
We know that New Orleans, Louisiana will host WrestleMania 34, only four years after the last Mania held there. We've also seen the rumors and reports that Miami, Florida has put in bids to host either Mania 35 in 2019 or Mania 36 in 2020. Minneapolis, Minnesota is also in the running for a future hosting gig, as is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now, those cities might not end up getting anything. The competition is intense, and there's always a handful of places in the mix.
I have some places that I think would make for great WrestleMania host cities, as long as we're keeping things somewhat realistic. Wrote a column about it. Like to read it? Here it goes.
University Of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ): Full disclosure here... this is a bit of a selfish pick for me, as I would only need a 25-minute drive to get to the stadium. Even skipping that minor factoid, though, this would be a good selection. It has already hosted WrestleMania once before (26), and it was able to pack in over 72,000 fans that day. You know those type of numbers are attractive to Vince McMahon and those in charge of this type of thing. The stadium features a retractable roof, which would allow for air conditioned comfort should it get too hot outside, or for natural daylight to shine in if the weather cooperates. Right next door to the stadium is the Westgate Entertainment District, featuring eight million square feet of dining, shopping and entertainment options, as well as WaterDance Plaza, a 60,000 gallon "dancing fountain" water display, similar to the world famous display outside of the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. That provides visitors with plenty to do nearby. For events like Raw, Smackdown and the Hall Of Fame, you could use the Gila River Arena (home of the National Hockey League's Arizona Coyotes), which is located at the aforementioned Westgate, or just have them at the Talking Stick Resort Arena (a 20-minute drive away from the stadium), which is where WWE usually runs when they do television in Phoenix.
Rogers Centre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada): I can think of a certain "eccentric billionaire" who would be very happy with this happening. Toronto has a vast history of being a tremendous wrestling city, with passionate fans who add entertainment value to any show. Located right in the heart of the city, there are numerous train and subway options for fans to use if traveling by car to the building-formerly-known-as-the-SkyDome isn't going to be an option. A very unique attraction of the Rogers Centre is the Renaissance Toronto Hotel, located within the dome. Yes, there is a hotel inside the building, featuring 70 rooms that overlook the field. It's not quite like getting front row seats or anything, but where else can you attend WrestleMania in person without ever having to leave your hotel room? It has been 15 years since Toronto hosted Mania, and going back for a third event makes sense, even after all this time.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Georgia): WrestleMania 27 was held in Atlanta, but at the Georgia Dome, infamous in wrestling history as being the venue where Goldberg defeated Hollywood Hogan to win the WCW World Title on an episode of Nitro in 1998. This is the brand new stadium of the Atlanta Falcons, set to open up at the end of August. If you know anything about new stadiums opening up in North America, you'd know that Vince McMahon salivates over the thought of having WrestleMania held there. The seating capacity will be 71,000 for football, which means you'll be able to fit a much higher number in there for a wrestling event with seats on the field. It's another venue with a retractable roof, so weather isn't a concern. Atlanta isn't necessarily the best city for fans, but if there's an event where that doesn't matter, it's WrestleMania, with fans coming in from all over the world. Philips Arena, probably the home for where the television shows would be that week, is less than a mile away, which adds extra convenience for fans. This one is pretty much guaranteed to happen. It's just a matter of when.
Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Indiana): At first glance, you wouldn't picture Indianapolis being a "touristy" city, especially compared to recent Mania host sites like Orlando, Miami, and New Orleans. What the city does have is eating establishments, though. The stadium is within walking distance of over 50 different restaurants, which pretty much assures that you and anyone you're hanging out with will have something to satisfy cravings. The stadium itself is praised as one of the best in the country when it comes to sight lines. It is said that there are no "bad" seats in the place, with even the nosebleed sections giving good views. If that isn't good enough for you, some of the biggest and best HD video screens of any football stadium in America are there, improving your view no matter where you are. Yet another place with a retractable roof, weather won't be an issue here. Again, it might not be a city that immediately jumps out at you like some other places, but it checks off a lot of the requirements that WWE has for a WrestleMania host city, and that's what counts.
Las Vegas Stadium (Las Vegas, Nevada): There's a catch with this one, but it's a simple catch... the stadium won't be completely built until 2020, so all of the information is speculation, hopes, and intentions. This will be the home of the Las Vegas Raiders football team once they've moved out of Oakland, and there is a lot of excitement over the move from a future events point of view. The stadium will be very close to "The Strip", which means there will be plenty of things for people to do. Gambling, entertainment, dining, and so on will all be plentiful. It's going to end up being a dome with a clear roof, so it's yet another place where weather won't matter. Well over 70,000 fans can fill the dome for "large events", which leads you to believe Mania could put at least 80,000 people in there. This is a night and day difference from WrestleMania 9, held in Vegas at Caesars Palace, one of the smallest venues to ever host Mania.
Wembley Stadium (London, England): WrestleMania held outside of North America?!? Ooh, controversial! The thought of something like this always starts crazy conversation on the internet. On one hand, you have those who say some of WWE's biggest and best fans are in the United Kingdom, and that putting on an event like this would guarantee a wild and crazy crowd all night long. On the other hand, you have those who bring up logistics. Those people point out the fact that WWE television in the United Kingdom is taped and shown on delay, and that would never work for WrestleMania. You'd have to make the show live, which would make the pre-show begin at 11pm (unless my knowledge of Daylight Savings Time is betraying me) in London, with the actual "pay-per-view" event starting at 1am. Just picture that in your heads for a moment. In a normal Mania event held outdoors, the show begins with daylight, but ends under the cover of darkness. For a Mania in Wembley airing live, it would begin with darkness and maybe, just maybe, end as the sun is beginning its rise in the sky. I would love to see this happen. Honestly, I would. I just don't think it will happen. At least not for a long time. Now, do I think that we'll get an event in the United Kingdom? Absolutely. There is too much momentum there for it not to happen. I just think it'll be a "second-tier" event, and an opportunity for the company to check the logistics of everything. If it does happen, though, it will be amazing. Wembley might be the best looking stadium on the planet. The seating capacity is listed as 90,000, which means considerably more could be there for Mania. One strike against this venue is that the sliding roof doesn't close completely. That means the elements will be in play. Looking at precipitation averages for London that time of year, it shows that late-March and early-April are about as dry as it gets all year, but the temperatures are something to keep an eye on. The average high temp for that time of year is about 50 degrees (10 Celsius), with the average low being 43 degrees (6 Celsius). Considering the time of day the event would be taking place, there's going to be plenty of need for jackets, coats, and hoodies from those in attendance. I'm sure the people of the United Kingdom wouldn't mind, though.
Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park (Inglewood, California): This entry features a similar catch to Las Vegas Stadium. This stadium also won't be open for business until the second half of 2020, which means the earliest that it could host WrestleMania is 2021, which would be Mania 37. Seems so far away. While this could change, the projected seating capacity for "special events" is listed at 100,000 people, which probably makes WWE officials salivate. There isn't a retractable roof in the plans, but as the great philosophers Tony! Toni! Toné! once said... it never rains in southern California. An entertainment district is being planned around the stadium, including a multiplex movie theater, a music/theater venue, hotels, dining, a lake with "multiple waterfall fountains", and a casino, which is already open. That, of course, makes the entire area very attractive to fans, especially with it being a mere three miles from the Los Angeles International Airport. The company loves the Los Angeles area, and with the annual SummerSlam event moving from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, don't be surprised to see LA get a WrestleMania as soon as possible.
U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, Minnesota): If you've paid attention to the news, you'd know that Minneapolis has been mentioned as a future Mania host city for a couple years now. It's only a matter of time before they're given the opportunity to host. One of the loudest stadiums in the country, there are plenty of possibilities for memorable pops and moments here. There's a fixed roof, so, stop me if you've heard this before, but... weather won't be an issue. Downtown Minneapolis has several options when it comes to getting to the stadium. If you aren't able to drive a car, there's light rail, city buses, bike paths and all sorts of ways to get around, making things easy and convenient. A road block in making this happen too soon is the fact that US Bank Stadium will be hosting the NCAA Final Four in 2019. The Final Four is always around the same time as WrestleMania every year (this year's took place on April 1st, with the title game being on April 3rd, with Mania happening on April 2nd). It just isn't logistically possible for a city to host that many people for two events, each bringing in fans from all corners, so close to each other. The hotel, rental car, etc situations would become nightmares. Then, when you throw in the new NFL stadiums coming in 2020, and it's possible that Minneapolis could be waiting for a while still.
Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): Like Minneapolis, Philadelphia has been listed as a city making bids to host Mania in recent years, and with WWE's love for Philly and its fan base, it's easy to picture them getting to host sooner than later. "The Linc" is an open-air stadium, so the first thing you look at, of course, is the weather. Comparing it to my earlier numbers for London, that time of year sees slightly warmer high temperatures for Philly, by only a couple degrees, but the average low temps for that time of year are about 39 degrees (4 Celsius). On top of that, the average precipitation is higher than London's for late-March and early-April. That poses a potential problem, but it wouldn't be the first outdoor WrestleMania to experience some rain. You can't really tell when you're watching it on television, though, so I guess that's a good thing, right? The stadium itself is right in line with most of the other entries on this list, with about 70,000 listed as the capacity, so it's really all about the weather and the fans. The potential for rain does carry some risk to this, but I think the good will outweigh the possible bad in the eyes of WWE management.
Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida): We know about WWE's love for the city of Orlando. They moved their developmental "territory" there, opened their Performance Center there, and had two WrestleManias there in less than a decade. About 85 miles southwest of Orlando, you have Tampa, the former home of WWE's Florida Championship Wrestling developmental promotion. The most recognizable part of "Ray Jay" is a replica pirate ship that checks in at 103 feet, weighing 43 tons. It sits in one end of the stadium and can fire replica cannons on command. You think that might play into something at WrestleMania? Maybe as part of the opening/closing pyro shows, or involved in someone's entrance, etc. The stadium record attendance is 74,512 fans, and that's definitely a number that WWE would top easily. This would be a fun option if the company wants to, once again, hold Mania in its adopted "home state" without going to the well too often with Orlando.
There are other options you could include if you wanted to be a little less realistic. I'd love to see WrestleMania held in the Tokyo Dome, but the odds of that happening are astronomical. When I lived in Hawaii, the thought of Mania being there was always something fun to picture, but you're more likely to see the event in Tokyo, honestly. People always include the biggest college football stadiums in these types of conversations, simply based on the projected numbers. For example, the University of Michigan football team plays in Michigan Stadium, which has an attendance record of 115,109 people. If they can fit over 115,000 people in the stands alone, imagine how many more people they could fit on the field like Mania always does. The problem with those collegiate stadiums is that they're usually in... surprise, surprise... college towns. That means, in a lot of cases, they're smaller cities where the only thing to do is go to football games at the stadium. It's hard to bring in the mass of humanity that WWE does for WrestleMania every year and have them staying in cities like that.
What say you, folks? Where do you want to see WrestleMania go in the future? Feel free to be a homer and choose your hometown or current place of residence. That's part of the fun of these things. Hit me up in the comments section, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what you think.