This is a guest post by my friend Brandon Howard. Brandon is a freelance writer who has written some tremendous articles for VoicesOfWrestling.com and SeekingAlpha.com, as well as being an insightful guest on wrestling podcasts like Talking Sheet and Wrestlenomics Radio. If you like this piece, I highly recommend his other work, as well as following him on Twitter @adecorativedrop.
WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, Texas, on April 3 has likely already shattered the all-time pro wrestling gate record.
While WWE may strive to announce an enhanced attendance of over 100,000 fans, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, 84,000 tickets are already out for the event. With that many sales, WWE has likely already set its company's all-time record for paid attendance, with the possible exception of the WrestleMania III in 1987. WrestleMania in 2015, 2014 and 2013 have drawn 67,000, 65,000 and 72,000 fans, respectively.
Even if the event is legitimately attended by 100,000 fans, the event will still be short of the all-time attendance record for pro wrestling. That was set on April 29, 1995, in Pyongyang, North Korea, as one-half of a two-day wrestling event co-promoted by New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling. The event was marketed by WCW as "Collison in Korea", main evented by Antonio Inoki and Ric Flair and seen by 170,000 attendees. The other event the day prior was attended by 150,000. I hesitate to say "fans were drawn" to this event. The people who attended were in all likelihood ordered to go by the government.
Other than those events, there are two others from the first-half of the twentieth century some believe were attended by 100,000 fans. An event headlined by Jim Londos vs. Kola Kwariani on October 22, 1933, some wrestling historians say drew 110,000 spectators in Londos' home country of Greece. Sixteen years later on April 17, 1949, Bholu Pahalwan beat Younus Gujranwalia in Karachi, Pakistan, before what may have been a crowd of "more than" 100,000.
Depending on whether WrestleMania III's 93,179 number is legitimate, WrestleMania 32 could possibly break the all-time North American attendance record. Although if the WrestleMania III attendance is legit, I question whether more than 93,179 fans can fit inside AT&T Stadium for WrestleMania 32, given WWE will be blocking off a large number of seats due to their stage.
I estimate that WrestleMania 32 has already broken the all-time world record for money drawn by ticket sales for a single pro wrestling event, just with the 84,000 tickets so far reportedly out.
Comparing the ticket prices, by pricing tier, of WrestleMania 31 with the ticket prices of WrestleMania 32, I believe the average ticket price for this year’s event to be about 13% higher than the ticket prices of last year’s. There are 13 pricing tiers for this year’s event; 12 tiers for last years event. Discarding the WrestleMania 32 tier that fits least well in the hierarchy ($354), the average difference for the remaining 12 tiers is 13% in favor of this year’s event.
The gate for WrestleMania 31 was $12.6 million, the current all-time record for pro wrestling worldwide. Divided among about 67,000 fans, that means the average ticket price was about $188. If WrestleMania 32’s average ticket price does in fact turn out to be 13% higher than WrestleMania 31’s, then the average ticket price for the event will be about $210. Even if WrestleMania 32 doesn’t sell another ticket beyond 84,000, the gate will be about $17.6 million.
Even when adjusting for inflation, WrestleMania 32 would still have the record by a wide margin.
In 2016 U.S. dollars, WrestleMania 32 still towers above every other wrestling event in history. Day 1 and 2 of the Pyongyang Sports Festival are reported to have drawn $7.5 million and $8.5 million, respectively, in 1995 dollars. The Observer reported 20,000 to 30,000 rich people attended the shows each night but that the rest were poor people ordered to attend; the ticket money was collected by the North Korean government, not New Japan.
The Observer report on tickets out for WrestleMania 32 came out on March 9. The event is not sold out yet, although Ticketmaster lists the event’s ticket availability as "not many left". With 25 days between then and WrestleMania on April 3, that's plenty of time for an unknown number of remaining tickets to be sold. So it’s likely attendance will be at least somewhat higher than 84,000, which would of course mean an even higher gate than the one estimated here.