Atlanta to host WrestleMania 27
MIKE MASTRANDREA - SLAM! Wrestling
ATLANTA -- With only the press on hand, Monday's announcement that WrestleMania 27 will be coming to the Georgia Dome on Sunday, April 3, 2011 seemed downright low-key for World Wrestling Entertainment.
WWE press conferences are often conducted with hoards of fans in the audience, shrieking and screaming for their favourites and hissing and catcalling at the company's heels.
For the 50 or so members of the press in attendance at the cavernous Georgia Dome for the noon press conference, everything went by quickly.
Key people in attendance included Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who seemed genuinely excited by both the announcement and meeting some of the wrestlers, Atlanta Sports Council President Gary Stokan, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development Ken Stewart, and Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay. A half-dozen Falcons were mingling around as well.
From the wrestling side, it was WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon who made the announcement.
"We are thrilled to bring the biggest sports entertainment event in the world for the first time to the city of Atlanta in 2011. The enthusiasm of the sellout crowd at last nightís Royal Rumble was just a small sample of what to expect when WrestleMania XXVII takes over Atlanta," said McMahon in a release. "We look forward to focusing the eyes of the world onto the great city of Atlanta and making history at the Georgia Dome."
"Atlanta has a long-standing reputation of hosting the highest level of sports and entertainment events and adding WrestleMania XXVII to the list is a major coup for our great city," said Mayor Reed. "We've built our reputation on over-delivering for such prestigious events like the Olympics, Super Bowls, NCAA Final Fours and All Star Games. WrestleMania will further showcase Atlanta as one of the leading sports and entertainment capitals of the world and will bring substantial economic impact to Atlanta and the state of Georgia."
Surprisingly, McMahon even addressed his own history in Atlanta, referencing Ray and Ann Gunkel and Jim Barnett.
One WWE superstar with ties to the city was Mark Henry, who competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. At the podium, Henry talked about his time both as a competitive weightlifter and as a wrestler.
The other WWE superstars -- John Cena, Batista, Big Show, Rey Mysterio, Kelly Kelly and Eve -- only spoke long enough for a soundbite, though Big Show did mention his time based in Atlanta while working for World Championship Wrestling.
John Cena is all smiles.
Visitors from around the world are expected to converge on Atlanta and participate in a week-long series of events that will culminate with WrestleMania XXVII. Announced activities include the 2011 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony, WrestleMania Axxess, a WrestleMania Art auction and a Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament. WWE's numbers for WrestleMania 25 in Houston claimed that the event pumped nearly $50 million into the local Houston economy.
The Georgia Dome has hosted major sporting events such as Super Bowl XXXIV and XXVIII, the NCAA Menís and Womenís Final Four, the SEC Football Championship and Chick-fil-A Bowl; it was also the location where Hulk Hogan lost the WCW World title to Goldberg in July 1998.
Mike Mastrandrea is SLAM! Wrestling's staff photographer, and will be filing a photo gallery from the press conference for Tuesday. He'd have done it for today, but he had to check his laptop for the flight home.