Wrestlemania’s Financial Gamble by Kurt Zamora

The timing couldn’t have been any worse. There’s never a good time for the WWE World Heavyweight Champion to go down with a gruesome knee injury, but on the day when 7,100 local Dallas fans camped out for hours outside AT&T Stadium to get their hands on WrestleMania tickets, the news hit everyone like a ten-pound hammer. Seth Rollins out at least 6-9 months with three torn ligaments.

I was in the middle of that crowd, 25th in line to be exact. I arrived at 10:45 AM with just over five hours to kill before tickets would go on sale. When that news hit in the middle of our long wait, myself and other fans starting putting the pieces together and realizing we were about to spend a small forturne on a show that all the sudden doesn’t have the star power we were all promised when this looked to be the biggest WrestleMania ever.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the ticket prices for this year’s WrestleMania. As someone that lives in Dallas, I can assure you that you shouldn’t have been terribly surprised based on what the Dallas Cowboys charge to watch them play in that stadium. But even that doesn’t really excuse whoever’s decision it was to come to that price range, to charge over $100 just to sit in the 400 section of the stadium where you’ll be doing nothing more than watching TV on their big screen as you’ll feel a mile away from the action. For those that bought tickets in those sections, I’m sorry to bring you that news.

Which brings me back to the thoughts that all us fans were having in that line. No Rollins. No Orton. No Rousey. Probably no Sting. Probably no Daniel Bryan. So how much would you pay for a WrestleMania without those options? Does the name value of the event itself, supercede the actual participants involved? That appears to be what WWE is banking on and although they obviously couldn’t prepare for injuries when they set the seating chart and prices, it is a gamble that is not guaranteed to pay out.

We all agree that WWE is known to exaggerate their numbers sometimes and do what they can to make themselves look as good as they can. I’m sure regardless of how many tickets they realistically sell for the show, it will still be the highest grossing WrestleMania and overall weekend in WWE history. And if they’re able to say that, then they can try and sweep under the rug the fact that WrestleMania didn’t sell as many tickets as they intended to when booking this venue. Because there will be no hiding the fact of whether or not they broke the attendance record from WrestleMania 3. There’s an urban legend from that day that the actual attendance was near 78,000. Nowhere close to the announced 93,173. I for one am one of those that believes the 93,173 number is accurate, or it was at least very close to that based on other attendance numbers from the Silverdome and pictures from the crowd that day. But believe me, WWE will not be able to fudge any numbers for WrestleMania 32.

If they want to fill in 93,174+ into the stadium, they will need every seat in that stadium filled plus a good amount of fans buying the Party Pass tickets. Party Pass in AT&T Stadium is stading room only decks on the second, third, and fourth levels on the east and west sides of the stadium. As someone who has bought Party Pass for Cowboys games before, if you bought these type of tickets for only $18, I’d say you got a steal compared to the prices of those of us with seats. If there are rows or even sections of empty seats anywhere in that stadium and WWE tries to announce a figure of 95,000 or so, it will be one of the biggest farces in WWE history. They will end up with egg on their face. Dave Meltzer is even predicting that they won’t get more than 87,000 fans, although again as someone who’s been in that stadium before, he has the setup capacity wrong on the stadium.

After the 5+ hours of waiting in line, it finally came my turn to buy tickets and for $414 I ended up with section 218, row 10. Not exactly as close as I’d like to end up for spending almost $500, especially considering the last time I attended a WrestleMania in Atlanta for 27, I spent $75 for first row in the 200’s. But at least they’re not terrible seats by any means.

Once we got our tickets and were ushered inside the stadium for the pre sale party, there was a considerable lack of buzz inside. Sure, fans were initially blown away by the image of a ring right on the 50 yard line and the huge WrestleMania logo on the 69 yard long jumbotron hanging over the ring. But once we got over that, the energy seemed almost sucked out of the building. Corey Graves consistently scolded us throughout the night for being boring and a bad crowd. Why were we such a bad crowd? We were the first fans to physically hold a copy of WrestleMania tickets in our hands. Heck, we didn’t even have to pay additional fees and taxes on our tickets! So why were we so dead after buying them? It could’ve been the fact that Corey and Greg Hamilton were about as entertaining as The Great Khali and Hornswoggle in an Ironman Match, or it could’ve been the fans asking themselves the same question I asked myself once the tickets were in my hand… what did I just pay for?

Now as I look at tickets online, there are tickets available in basically every price range. For just $2434.96 a ticket, you can sit on the floor in section F, row G right now. Does that sound appealing to you? Do you want to pay two mortgage payments just to say you attended WrestleMania? WWE better hope so. Because what was supposed to be WWE’s crowning moment in a long history of such moments, could instead become their worst nightmare.