INDIANAPOLIS — WWE fans haven’t seen a Wrestlemania in the Circle City in almost thirty years. Back then, the iconic Hulk Hogan was headlining the event. Ever since then, fans have been clamoring to see the spectacle back in Indy.
Visit Indy confirms there was talk of a potential bid for Wrestlemania in 2018, however the show ended up in New Orleans that year. We reached out to see if there was a chance for a future bid. This was their statement.
“Indy’s tourism portfolio includes hosting some of the largest, most complex conventions and events offered globally,” said Chris Gahl with Visit Indy. “Team Indy is always scanning the horizon to bring back or host anew, including popular events like Wrestlemania. And while it’s too soon to tell if the city bids again, we know we are capable.”
Given the size and scope of current Wrestlemania shows, it is most likely that a future event would take place at Lucas Oil Stadium. Local real estate agent Kevin Fertig is a former WWE superstar who competed at Wrestlemania 23 in Detroit. He too has his eye set on Lucas Oil.
“From a promoters stand point, if I was Vince [McMahon, CEO of WWE], if I was WWE, I would be foaming at the mouth to have that kind of venue,” explained Fertig, noting that compared to outdoor stadiums Lucas Oil has the option to close up if need be. “It’s scary coming into it if you don’t know what the weather is going to be like.”
The area around Lucas Oil has also seen extensive infrastructure improvements since that potential bid in 2018. This includes the $120 million dollar expansion of the Indiana Convention Center. This type of infrastructure is vital to an event like Wrestlemania that draws countless ancillary events like autographs signings, meet-and-greet sessions, and fan experiences for people from around the world.
“When I was at Wrestlemania 23 in Detroit, just in the malls alone, I was meeting people from Japan, China, England, Ireland, Germany,” said Fertig. “That’s what packs our hotels, packs our restaurants.”
“It draws in the neighbor of 80,000 to 90,000 fans. It’s a multiple day event. About 3/4 of the people who attend Wrestlemania come from out of town,” explained David Pierce, Director of the Sports Information Institute at IUPUI. “Past studies in the last three years have shown [the event draws] somewhere in the neighborhood of a $150 million dollar economic impact.”
Indy is no stranger to hosting major events. The last Wrestlemania was in 1992 at the Hoosier Dome. Twenty years later the city hosted the Super Bowl.
“With new hotels that have come on board here in the last three years, Indianapolis would be well positioned to succeed in the event,” believed Pierce.
The greatest spectacle in Wrestling is sure to attract other wrestling organizations who are looking to feed off the eager WWE fan base. These are independent wrestling promotions that do not tend to appear on television. It’s where local pro wrestlers often get their start.
“Dick the Bruiser was from around here, and he’s one of the greatest wrestlers of all time,” added Fertig.
“I would like to get more spotlight on everyone from Indianapolis. The scene has a lot of young talent that is ready to burst,” said local professional wrestler and trainer Jake Omen. “I think a lot of people don’t know that there is wrestling that’s not on television. Bringing Wrestlemania would bring a million independent wrestling shows to the city.”
Omen has wrestled in 19 countries, and just got back from training professional wrestlers overseas.
“The biggest run I’ve ever had, I spent a good part of 2016 and 2017 in Japan,” said Omen. “Not a lot of wrestlers come out of Indianapolis. I would really love to hear the phrase, ‘Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana’ [ when a wrestler is introduced].”
“I drive by Lucas Oil on the interstate, and I think to myself, ‘Wow, how cool would that be to main event Wrestlemania in my home town,” dreamed Blake Wright, a local professional wrestler being trained by Omen. “I get goosebumps even thinking about it.”
Wright is just fifteen months into his pro wrestling career.
“Like many other people in the ring I started out as a fan,” explained Wright. “I never gave it the time of day, but then a gentleman by the name of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson came on my TV, and I was enamored.”
A future Wrestlemania would go a long way to helping local talent like Wright and Omen get discovered.