EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Before the Super Bowl comes to MetLife Stadium, WrestleMania slams into the home of the NFL champions.
The biggest show in professional wrestling will be held at MetLife in 2013 and it's expected to generate a financial windfall for the New York City area and the northern New Jersey suburbs.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie formally announced Thursday that the wrestling extravaganza would be held at the Meadowlands sports complex on April 7, 2013 , and WWE officials estimated that it would generate at least $62 million in revenues and possibly more for the region.
"WrestleMania has quickly grown into a week-long celebration generating in excess of $60 million of new direct spending for the host community where it takes place," said John Saboor, the WWE senior vice-president for special events. "We expect by virtue of the enormity of this market, the popularity of this market, we can expect to see a greater result of WrestleMania week."
Saboor said last year's event in Atlanta generated $62 million in revenue and he believed this year's event in Miami in April will top that figure.
The 2013 edition of WrestleMania will be the 29th and a homecoming of sorts.
The first WrestleMania was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1985. A raspy-voiced WWE chief executive Vince McMahon noted that Muhammad Ali served as the guest referee and Billy Martin as the guest ring announcer. The event featured Mr. T, .Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan in the featured match.
"WrestleMania on that date next year comes home," McMahon said.
Saboor said that weeklong wrestling program should attract about 120,000 fans, with 80,000 expected to attend WrestleMania. The other 40,000 will take part in ancillary events such as a four-day fan festival, the WWE's annual Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, parties and a WWE "Raw" event.
This year's event in Miami in April will have John Cena and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson competing in the featured match.
Both wrestlers attended Thursday's announcement, with Cena noting:
"I'm glad you don't have a roof, because we would blow it off."
The two-year-old, 80,000-seat stadium is co-owned by the NFL's Giants and Jets.
Giants chief executive John Mara and Jets owner Woody Johnson were both on hand for the announcement. Neither spoke at the news conference that started almost 30 minutes late. Christie had a prior commitment and left before the news conference was over, while Mara and Johnson left as soon as it ended because of prior commitments.
The two NFL owners did get a few chuckles by posing for pictures with championship belts presented to them by the WWE.
Events over the week would be held in New York City and New Jersey, although those sites will be announced at a later date, Saboor said..
Fifteen cities made presentations to serve as the host for WrestleMania 29, Saboor said.
Ron VanDeVeen, the senior vice-president for events and guest experiences for MetLife Stadium, said the stadium officials spent three years working to get the event.
"We originally were talking about Summer Slam coming to the stadium, then Giants Stadium, and we morphed it into let's talk about how do we make this even bigger and does WrestleMania work," VanDeVeen said.
The interested parties agreed to go for the bigger event and MefLife won the bidding, a competition that outgoing stadium president Mark Lamping said was as difficult as bidding on the Super Bowl.