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Thursday, August 23, 2001

Toronto has hammerlock on WWF spectacle

By GEORGE CHRISTOPOULOS -- City Hall Bureau
 Toronto has a firm grip on WrestleMania XVIII -- the World Wrestling Federation's ultimate show, sources say.

 Billed as one of the biggest single sports-entertainment events, the ultimate showdown will likely be held at the SkyDome. It would mark the second time the WWF has chosen Toronto for its annual no-holds barred mania-fest.

 Sources said Mayor Mel Lastman, Premier Mike Harris, WWF officials and several stars will make the official announcement at Nathan Phillips Square over the Labour Day weekend.

 The sources said the SkyDome will increase its seating capacity to 70,000, based primarily on a floor reconfiguration and the inclusion of the SkyDome Hotel and three restaurants.

 Canada's largest city has long been considered the front-runner in the battle royal with two U.S. cities for the right to host the mat classic in March 2002.

 WrestleMania has become a huge phenomenon since its debut in 1985 with Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.

 Today's stars include The Rock, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, the Undertaker, Kane and The Hardy Boyz.

 When last held in Toronto, in 1990, Wrestlemania VI set Canadian attendance records by attracting 67,678 fans. And an audience of more than 50 million people in 40 countries tuned in to watch the Ultimate Warrior defeat Hulk Hogan for the WWF championship.

 The WWF earned more than $40 million from the 31/2-hour event.

 The largest mania crowd gathered at WMIII at the Pontiac Silverdome in suburban Detroit, where 93,173 witnessed the bedlam.

More on Wrestlemania XVIII





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