New WWE attendance record set at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.
After five hours of nonstop wrestling action capped by Roman Reigns pinning Triple H to become the new World Wrestling Entertainment heavyweight champion, all that was left to do was assess how WrestleMania 32 had performed overall on April 3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The assessment, quite simply, was record-shattering.
“We shattered by over one-third our previous record for Wi-Fi data usage at AT&T Stadium which was 4.92 Tb (terabytes) at the NCAA national championship football game in January 2015,” said Paul Turner, the stadium’s senior director of event operations.
“We were able to set a new WWE WrestleMania attendance record of 101,763, which was something we set out to do very early in the process,” added Mark Neifeld, manager of events at the stadium.
“We are thrilled that we made history at WrestleMania, further cementing its place as one of the top sports and entertainment events in the world,” concluded Stephanie McMahon, WWE chief brand officer.
Suffice it to say the carnage inside the ring that included matches dubbed as a “No Holds Barred Street Fight” and a “Hell in a Cell” contest paled compared to the obliteration of records outside the squared circle. Let us literally count the ways.
WM32 easily bested the previous high-water attendance mark set back in 1987 at WM3 when 93,173 attended at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit. Fans attended this year’s spectacular from all 50 states and 35 countries. The event became the highest grossing live event in WWE history at $17.3 million, topping last year’s previous record of $12.6 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
AT&T Stadium is no stranger to high-profile events, beginning with the Dallas Cowboys. From the time the massive $1.3 billion stadium opened in 2009, team owner and general manager Jerry Jones let it be known that the venue would offer much more than football. Sure enough, the stadium has hosted other events including the NBA All-Star Game, college football, Big 12 football championships, the Cotton Bowl, soccer, boxing, concerts and more. All were pinned by WM32’s otherworldly numbers.
“Regarding our Wi-Fi usage, WrestleMania attendees utilized 6.77 terabytes of data,” Turner said. “That is second only to this year’s Super Bowl in Santa Clara for Wi-Fi data usage at an event.”
Turner went on to do the math, noting that the massive usage of data equated to 20 million social media posts. Nielsen Social reported 2.5 million mentions on Twitter throughout the day and 1.3 million mentions during the broadcast alone, an increase of 50 percent and 18 percent year-over-year, respectively, and making WM32 the most social event in WWE history.
WWE-related content saw more than 250 million video views across WWE.com, WWE App and social media during WrestleMania Week, an increase of 122 percent year-over-year.
Another stadium record was shattered as 525,000 pounds of rigging including audio, lights and sound demolished the previous mark of 340,000 pounds.
“The event began to load in on March 17,” Neifeld said, “and we put 525,000 pounds rigged in the air, an AT&T Stadium record. The scope of it all was just incredible.”
Neifeld worked at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta when WM27 took place there in 2011, and noted how the spectacle has grown in the last five years.
“For me WrestleMania 32 really began in December 2014,” he said. “That was when the planning process began for the press conference (to announce the event) and logo announcement all the way to planning our on-sale party which was an event we had back in November. Then, beginning to work with the WWE staff and build the event from the ground up and try to figure out what WM32 would be.
“We worked hand in hand with the WWE production team, the TV team and their ticket folks. Everybody really built this, because if you go back and look at Wrestlemania and see some of the design elements such as palm trees dropped into the set in Miami you understand there are a lot of details.
“A lot of components of their event move from city to city and remain constant, but for us to get to a record-breaking attendance, a lot of that had to go out the window. We had to come up with a creative new design … a new event design that would allow us to bring over 100,000 folks into AT&T Stadium.”
Those folks also helped set a new merchandise sales record as WWE generated $4.55 million in revenue, an increase of 37 percent or $1.2 million, from last year’s previous record.
Getting In On The Action
WrestleMania is a week-long celebration in the host city that includes numerous opportunities for fans in addition to the Sunday main event. WrestleMania Axxess was held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas from March 31-April 3 with meet-and-greets, memorabilia displays and more.
American Airlines Center hosted both the WWE Hall of Fame inductions the night before WM32 as well as the live Monday Night RAW the evening following WrestleMania.
“Both were sellouts and blowout events,” said Dave Brown, executive vice president and general manager of the arena. “The Hall of Fame was a cool night and really captured the history and significance of the WWE and made you appreciate how it has impacted the arena business for the last few decades.
“We got a kick out of one guest who emailed us and asked, ‘Is there a dress code?’ Of course there wasn’t, but we had to ask as well. Another thing that immediately grabbed our attention was the number of fans from out of town and from all over the world in attendance. The Dallas tourism industry really made out well that weekend.”
The momentum from WrestleMania carried over to Monday night at the arena with festive fans still in a fervor pitch.
“It was an amazing night,” Brown said. “Every seat was filled and you could look out in the arena and look at seating sections where every single seat had a guest sitting in it. I didn’t make it out to the actual WrestleMania, but I did get out and saw the production a couple of days prior. I’ve never seen anything so immense in my career. I tried to count the number of rig points and had to give up. It had to be over 500.”
Brown is no stranger to hosting WWE events at American Airlines Center, so he understands the success of his events in conjunction with the main show down the highway in Arlington. For the team at AT&T Stadium, it was also a night, weekend and week to remember.
“Overall, it is incredible to think about the magnitude of this event,” Neifeld said. “It was wonderful for our stadium. It was new for our stadium and it was something that a lot of our fans and our community got to experience. Everybody feels like it was just a tremendous success.”
Interviewed for this story: Dave Brown, (214) 665-4222; Mark Neifeld, (941) 713-1629; Paul Turner, (817) 892-4151