In a perfect world, Stacy “Baby D” Carpenter would be rocking the ring and 100,000 fans at Sunday’s WrestleMania 32 blockbuster at AT&T Stadium.
“When I was little, I had it in my fantasy world that I would be there,” said Carpenter, 27, a Fort Worth medical assistant and amateur wrestler who does get to unleash her alter ego in local wrestling bouts on most Saturday nights. “Right now, I don’t foresee myself there.”
But she’ll be among the fans Sunday, cheering her favorites, superstars Triple H and the Undertaker, who are among the competitors in 10 matches that include a world championship — and a bid by WrestleMania to break its all-time attendance record.
In the process, the main event, a Hall of Fame induction and four days of star-and-fan mingling and other community events, is projected to bring close to the $139 million economic impact recorded at last year’s WrestleMania in Santa Clara, Calif.
Arlington officials took a narrower look, estimating a $42 million economic impact for Arlington and North Texas, plus about $435,000 in sales tax revenue for the city, based only on projections of fans coming from beyond Texas.
“Our goal is to provide so many opportunities to our fans to come early and stay late,” said John Saboor, WWE executive vice president of special events.
WrestleMania, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.’s crown jewel event, was founded in 1985 and recorded its largest audience in 1987 — 93,173 people at the Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit.
Saboor said WWE won’t comment on ticket sales until it has a final number, which will be announced at the main event. But he said Wednesday that he expects ticket sales to break the Westlemania 3 attendance record. So far, tickets have gone to all 50 states and 35 countries.
News media interest is also big. More than 185 press credentials have been approved, with some members from as far away as China and Japan.
“WrestleMania 32 is good for Arlington and great for North Texas,” said Arlington Deputy City Manager Theron Bowman. “Hotels, restaurants, malls and many other area businesses will see a significant increase in sales directly connected to WrestleMania. What a great opportunity.”
It’s a pay-per-view event, but WWE is offering free viewing for news subscribers to the WWE Network, which is free for the first month and $9.99 a month thereafter.
AT&T Stadium certainly has the capacity for an attendance challenge, having hosted 108,713 people for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game and exceeded 100,000 in several other events.
Saboor said the big day will feature 10 matches, including five WWE championships — the World Heavy Weight Championship, the U.S. Championship, the Divas (women’s) Championship, the Intercontinental Championship and the Tag Team Championship. In all, about 60 Superstars and Divas (WWE prefers those designations to “wrestlers”) will rumble in the main event, including three-on-three and five-on-five matches.
“It’s huge, it’s fun, and it’s packed,” Michael “The Miz” Mizanin, who is part of the Sunday lineup, said enthusiastically in a phone interview this week. “Fans are booing who they hate and cheering the ones they love.”
Overall, 150 Superstars, Divas and “Legends” — mostly retired pro wrestlers — began taking part this week in about 28 ticketed and free activities in DFW. It started Wednesday, including a WWE visit to the Youth Education Town of North Texas at the Arlington Salvation Army.
WWE will host WrestleMania Axxess at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, where fans can meet their favorite Superstars and Divas, get autographs and take selfies during four-hour sessions that cost $55.
On Saturday night, 10 wrestlers — 10 Superstars, including a four-man team, and one Diva — will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
The Sunday event is the culmination of the work of a committee led by Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson that visited WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to pitch the stadium as a WrestleMania venue.
The trip, needless to say now, went well.
“It was the perfect opportunity to bring the largest wrestling event to the best sporting venue in the world,” said Ron Price, president and CEO of the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, who was part of that lobbying committee. “It was a perfect match.”
WrestleMania is making its third trip to Texas, the first in Dallas-Fort Worth. Last year’s event packed the 68,500-seat Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., with 76,976 fans from all 50 states and 53 countries. That also broke the Levi’ attandance recrord of 70,799.
The event generated $139 million in economic impact for the region, according to a study by Enigma Research Corp. It also generated $23.2 million in federal, state and local taxes, and visitors spent $22 million on hotels in the Santa Clara/San Jose region and stayed an average of 3.3 nights, the study said.
Though details weren’t available Thursday, Arlington-area hotels were “very happy and very full,” said Decima Cooper Mullen, the tourism bureau’s senior director of marketing and public relations.
Tickets for the main event range in price from $42 for upper-level seats to $2,360 for floor seats.
Like several city officials who haven’t closely followed pro wrestling, they got interested quickly as the WrestleMania deal began taking shape.
“I didn’t know much about it,” Mayor Jeff Williams said. “But they have a huge following, so I’m very excited that these people from all over the world are coming to Arlington. They’re going to get very excited about all the things we have in our entertainment distinct.”
Especially this weekend, when WrestleMania Sunday will be followed by major-league baseball Opening Day on Monday. Arlington tourism officials are working to persuade visitors to extend their stay for that purpose.
The tourism bureau has crafted a Top 5 list of things to do while in Arlington, including the Rangers-Seattle Mariners season opener and kicking off the weekend with a trip to Six Flags Over Texas on Saturday.
“A lot of people travel and make WrestleMania their yearly family vacation,” Mullen said. “Which is one of the reasons we want to give them plenty to do, before and after.”