Wrestlemania a great kickoff to New Orleans festival season



Posted on April 7, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 7 at 5:21 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- The reviews are in, and the Wrestlemania crowd says New Orleans is a hit.

"It's absolutely mad," said Tom Canning from Cambridge, England.

"Friendly, nice," said Kristi Vaine from the Republic of Estonia. "I'm happy here."

"Oh, very nice, very nice," said Ryan Ruppel from Union, New Jersey.

"This is definitely going to become one of my more favorite destinations to come back and visit," said Kevin Menendez from Florida.

WWE's premier event brought more than 70,000 people to town from all 50 states and 40 countries. It broke the record at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the highest-grossing entertainment event.

"Last night's event ended up grossing just under $11 million," said Superdome General Manager Alan Freeman. "The economic impact will take months to really determine, but I'm sure the restaurants, the hotels other entertainment attraction, had a great, great weekend."

Wrestlemania's overall economic impact on the city is expected to be in the neighborhood of $100 million.

"We took a survey of our hotel members of the Convention and Visitors Bureau last week, and they were at 100 percent occupancy for the weekend," said Kelly Schultz from the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Tourism officials say that Wrestlemania is a great opening act for the all-important festival season, a season that opens up on the Riverfront this weekend with French Quarter Fest.

"French Quarter Fest, Jazz Fest, the Jazz in the Park series on Thursday evenings in Armstrong Park kicks off, the Crescent City Classic, these are all huge boosts for our tourism economy," said Schultz.

It sounds like festival season could be in the future plans for some of these Wrestlemania fans.

"It's the most wonderfully, friendly, crazy, welcoming city I've probably ever been to in my life," said Canning. "It's brilliant. I would love to come back."

"I posted a lot of things on social media," said Menendez. "People are already overwhelmed at where we've been and what we've seen and what we've done. I'm excited."

That's exactly the type of thing local leaders want to hear.

"They are telling us they were very pleased with performance of our venue and the entire city and they want to come back," said Freeman.

"We view every single one of the Wrestlemania fans, who came to New Orleans, as a brand ambassador for us," said Schultz.

Superdome managers hope New Orleans gets into a regular rotation for hosting Wrestlemania.