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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon and Jets and Giants owners Woody Johnson and John Mara were among those at a news conference to announce that WWE’s biggest annual event would be held at MetLife Stadium on April 7, 2013.
“In terms of the competition for this event, it was as much that we went through to try to earn this event from Vince and his company that we went through with the Super Bowl,” said Mark Lamping, president of MetLife Stadium.
The Giants and Jets fought hard to be awarded an outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl game. Now the home of the Super Bowl champion Giants and the Jets will get an appetizer of sorts on what it will be like to handle a big sports entertainment event before the Super Bowl comes the following year.
“This is not a one-day thing,” Christie said. “This is a week-long celebration that is going to be brought here to New Jersey and the surrounding area. You will have fans from all around the country and around the world who are going to come and generate tens of millions of dollars in all type of economic activity for this area.”
WWE star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who played football at the University of Miami and dreamed of playing in the NFL before following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather into the WWE, said he walked on the MetLife Stadium field before Thursday’s conference.
“I went out there and I soaked it all in,” said the actor and wrestler, who will be featured in the main event of this year’s WrestleMania and told reporters he will be a part of the WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium as well. “Football was my life for a lot of years. I’ve always had what I call Super Bowl dreams, of getting drafted and playing in the NFL and playing in the Super Bowl. That never happened. So I live vicariously through a lot of these guys and the New York Giants is one of them.
“To be able to come here and not be a Super Bowl champion but be ‘The People’s champion’… on this field… awesome.”
In 2011, WrestleMania was held before 71,617 fans at the Georgia Dome. This year’s event will be April 1 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. WrestleMania has generated more than $200 million in cumulative economic impact for its past four host regions.
“I can tell you I will come to WrestleMania XXIX and I will electrify MetLife Stadium as it’s never been electrified before,” Johnson said before delivering his trademark “if you smell what The Rock is cooking” sign off.
“WrestleMania has very quickly grown into a week-long celebration that generates in excess of $60 million of new direct spending for the host community where it takes place,” said John Saboor, WWE’s senior vice president of special events. “We expect by virtue of the enormity and popularity of this market that we could see an even greater result tied to WrestleMania.”
John Cena, Triple H, Mark Henry, Sheamus and Brie and Nikki Bella joined Dwayne Johnson and the Giants’ David Diehl and Zak DeOssie and the Jets’ Kyle Wilson, Muhammad Wilkerson, Matt Slauson and Donald Strickland at the press conference.
“I’m glad you don’t have a roof on the building,” Cena said of the open-air stadium. “Because we would surely blow it off.”
Triple H also presented Woody Johnson, the Jets chairman and CEO, and Mara, the Giants CEO and president, with world championship belts and stood between the two holding both their hands up like prized wrestlers.
“I think it was pretty funny,” Diehl joked about seeing the Giants co-owner with a championship belt over his shoulder. “I think you saw the tale of two tapes between [Mara] and Woody. Looking to see them wrestle each other at WrestleMania.”
The 2013 WrestleMania will be the fifth one to be held in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. McMahon said he was thrilled to be bringing WrestleMania “home.”
“It all started back in 1985 in Madison Square Garden where the first WrestleMania,” McMahon said. “Who will ever forget Muhammad Ali as the guest referee of the main event. Billy Martin was the guest ring announcer. Mr. T was in the main event with Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper. Of course there was Cyndi Lauper in the corner of one of our Divas matches and let’s not forget, Liberace and The Rockettes.
“WrestleMania on April 7, next year, comes home,” he added.
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.