By Craig Tello
With more than 70,000 WWE fans expected to invade Detroit this weekend for the spectacle of spectacles, WrestleMania, Motor City officials anticipate a huge boost in the success of the local economy.
WWE fans from around the globe will swarm Detroit all week long and the city is ready, willing and able to accommodate them, according to George Jackson, President and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Chief Development Officer for Detroit.
Preliminary estimates are not exact, but according to Jackson, the economic impact of WrestleMania 23 being hosted in the Motor City will make a splash not seen since Hogan slammed Andre 20 years ago.
“[An event like WrestleMania] does wonders in a positive way for hotels, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues in Detroit,” Jackson said. “The impact of having that many WWE fans here and having events during the week leading up to the event on Sunday is a phenomenal shot in the arm for the economy of Detroit.”
According to the Motor City official, major elements of the success that WrestleMania brings are the week-long festivities including Fan Axxess, the THQ Challenge, The Condemned premiere and the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
“Having not just one big event on Sunday, but also multi-day events equals more hotel rooms, more meals sold, and more people enjoying the city and what it has to offer,” he said.
Jackson stated that when the World Series as well as the Super Bowl came to the city, they brought with them droves of new visitors who were pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed their stay in Detroit.
“This is good for us both in a purely and directly economic way, but also in a non-economic way,” Jackson explained. “Detroit is going through a renaissance; changes include more than 76 new businesses in the last 36 months in the downtown area…28 new restaurants…160 other new projects. The city is clean. It’s beautiful.”
In 1987, the “Biggest Spectacle of Them All” has originated from the Motor City before in one of sports-entertainment’s definitive events. Given the growth of the downtown area, Jackson agreed that there is a distinct difference between the Detroit of today and the Detroit of two decades ago, the landscape for WrestleMania III.
“People are going to stay longer and spend more money because of the resources at their fingertips today,” Jackson claimed. “The difference now is that we have more venues for people to visit and enjoy.”
Not only does Jackson have a professionally vested interest in the success of WrestleMania and Detroit’s partnership this year, but he also has a personal interest in enjoying a phenomenon with which he is very familiar.
“I remember [WrestleMania III] because I was there,” he revealed. “I have raised three boys who have grown up with wrestling, and I, myself, have been a wrestling fan too for some time.”
In a unique twist of fate, years after WrestleMania III had a significant economic impact on Jackson’s wallet; his sons – now a little older – managed to obtain tickets to the Ford Field extravaganza.
“Even if I don’t have a ticket to something, I’m going to at least walk around,” Jackson added with a vigorous chuckle. “I try to participate and get out there and get a pulse of what the people are saying.”
Then, ultimately, Jackson’s inner WWE fan reared its head in the midst of his claim of duty.
“Of course I’m going [to WrestleMania],” he exclaimed.