SPORTS

The Meadowlands will host WrestleMania 35

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

The New Day of the WWE opened the news conference with their typical kitsch.

Kofi Kingston announced, “From the Big Apple, all the way to the Jersey Shore, WWE is taking over.”

Actually, giant logos plastered around MetLife stadium had already shouted the news in advance: WrestleMania has booked the Meadowlands for a return engagement. Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, in her first official gig as acting governor, since Phil Murphy is out-of-state on vacation, made it official.

“WrestleMania 35 will take place here at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, April 7, 2019,” she said.

WrestleMania’s literally gripping melodrama last captivated fans in New Jersey five years ago, when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena grappled and grimaced, and generated $102 million in local revenue. The WWE’s premiere event operates on a grand scope, broadcasting to 180 countries with 850 million social media followers.

“From every street corner in the U.S., to favelas in Brazil, to high-rises in Shanghai, people all over the world will be talking about New York and New Jersey, and WrestleMania 35 at MetLife stadium,” said WWE Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon.

WrestleMania is a weeklong revenue-generating machine when tens of thousands of fans gather to cheer stars like Triple H and Ronda Rousey, who obligingly performed a little stare-down for the cameras. John Cena will be back. He proposed to wife Nikki Bella during WrestleMania 33 and they charmingly canoodled for the media at the news conference. The New Day finished it all off with a pancake-flinging melee.

Fans plan their vacations around this stuff.

“We get that hotel stay for a week. We get all that residual, discretionary spending. They’ll go to restaurants and other attractions, but more importantly for us, we get to spotlight this region all over the world, to international visitors by the millions,” said Jim Kirkos, president and CEO of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a huge ad for us.”

Recalling the 2014 Super Bowl and how crowds clogged mass transit, the Sports and Exposition Authority’s new CEO, Vincent Prieto, commented on its readiness for WrestleMania.

“History teaches us, and we learn from our mistakes, so obviously it’ll be looked at very carefully. The train spur that comes into here on game day will be running on a regular base,” he said.

But wait, there’s more. Construction’s ramping up at American Dream, a mall-plus-entertainment venue catacorner to the stadium. Developer Triple Five estimates it’ll draw a crowd.

“People will come to this region for American Dream, and not necessarily to see New York. New York will be the whipped cream and cherry,” said Kirkos.

If American Dream opens on time next March, it’ll be right before the flood of fans hits MetLife stadium for WrestleMania 35. Timing is everything.