During WWE’s quarterly conference call for investors today Vince McMahon volunteered that the WrestleMania 32 attendance of 101,763 was not a paid number.
“That included ushers and ticket-takers. It wasn’t 101,000 paid,” McMahon said, making it clear the announced attendance included not just free tickets but those who didn’t hold tickets, such as event staff.
In the brief aside on the subject, McMahon didn’t offer any insight into what portion of the announced attendance included paying ticket holders. While the conference call involves a question-and-answer session, McMahon made this clarification on his own in his usual opening remarks at the beginning of the call.
We can deduce from WWE’s own Key Performance Indicator documents that the number of tickets actually sold to the event was somewhere between 73,711 and 85,888.
WWE announced the 101,763 figure live on its broadcast of WrestleMania 32 on April 2, 2016, as well as in press releases on its website for investors.
The day after WrestleMania 32, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported the number of people in AT&T Stadium was 97,769, contrary to WWE’s public claim.
The WrestleMania attendance just about every year is announced publicly at a number higher than the actual paid attendance. The number is celebrated in press releases and even financial documents. Despite WWE being a publicly-traded company this issue apparently has little bearing on their stock price or perception to investors. An analyst familiar with WWE's stock once told me: “[Disputes about WrestleMania’s attendance are] more or less immaterial to the overall investment thesis around the stock.”
Investors care far more about financial figures related live events. WWE’s claim that the gate for WrestleMania 32 was $17.3 million doesn’t appear to be in doubt.