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  Thursday, Feb. 7, 2002



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Wrestling fans to get Axxess

By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling


Pictured at the WWF Fan Axxess press conference are (left to right) WWF Canada President Carl DeMarco, Toronto Raptors star Jerome Williams, wrestling legend Ric Flair, Toronto Raptors star Tracy Murray, Ontario's Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation Tim Hudak and Vice President Marketing, Pizza Pizza, Pat Finelli. (SLAM! WRESTLING PHOTO/JOHN POWELL)
As part of the WrestleMania festivities, the WWF is once again giving fans the rare opportunity to get up and close and personal with its superstars during WWF Fan Axxess.

At a press conference held at SkyDome today, the World Wrestling Federation announced its plans for Axxess, the three day fan festival which gets underway at the Automotive Building at the National Trade Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto on Thursday, March 14th to Saturday, March 16th.

"The WWF really prides itself on its relationship with its fans and I am here today to help kick off Fan Axxess. That means we as wrestlers and we as a company are going to open the doors to the fans who want to be part of the pre-WrestleMania ceremonies," said wrestling legend Ric "Nature Boy" Flair who made a special appearance to promote the event.

Among the many features included as part of Axxess are superstar autograph sessions and photo opportunities, interactive attractions, icons and artifacts representing the history of the WWF as well as officially licensed souvenirs and collectables. There will also be acres of exhibits, demonstrations and displays. Each day will be broken up into two sessions, the first one being from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the second, 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. A ribbon-cutting ceremony including superstars, celebrities and dignitaries is set for the March 14th opening.

Axxess does come at a price though. All tickets are $40 CDN (approximately $26 U.S. plus applicable service charges) per session and can be ordered this Saturday at 10:00 a.m. through Ontario Ticketmaster locations or WrestleMania.com and TicketMaster.ca on the Web. Fans can also charge by phone by calling (416) 870-8000.

WWF Canada President Carl DeMarco, a long-time wrestling fan who grew up in Toronto, felt honoured at being able to bring Axxess to the fans.

"What do the fans of the WWF who are coming from all around the world expect to see here at Fan Axxess? At any given time, they will see well over 20 different WWF superstars signing autographs for our fans. If it is a "Stone Cold", if it is Kurt Angle, if it is Edge, Christian, Ric Flair...they will all be there," said DeMarco proudly.

Ontario's Minister Of Tourism, Culture and Recreation - Tim Hudak - was thrilled to welcome WrestleMania 18 and WWF Fan Axxess to Toronto.

"We are really excited that the WWF selected Toronto for Fan Axxess and WrestleMania because we know and they know that Toronto is a world class city with world class tourism attractions. We are going to show that Ontario is the undisputed heavyweight champion of tourism attractions. And that's the bottom line...because the Minister said so," said Hudak getting into the spirit of things.

According to Hudak, fans from 10 provinces, 47 U.S. states and 17 other countries are coming to Toronto to take in Fan Axxess and WrestleMania.

Ric Flair has the Raptors' Jerome Williams and Tracey Murray all wrapped up. (Sun Photo: CRAIG ROBERTSON).
DeMarco and SkyDome President Norm Seagram also used the press conference to let a little secret out for those wrestling fans still scouring for WrestleMania tickets. More tickets will become available the week of the show once the television production logistics are figured out. When tickets for WrestleMania 18 went on sale 56,000 were purchased in an hour and a half setting a TicketMaster sales record. Currently, the only way for fans to get tickets is to contact SkyDome regarding the Sky Box seating they have available.

Seagram, himself, expects WrestleMania 18 to smash the SkyDome record set by WrestleMania 6 in 1990.

"Remember April 1st, 1990, when SkyDome hosted WrestleMania 6? It was the first time WrestleMania ventured outside the United States' borders. Many will argue that WrestleMania 6 was one of the greatest events in the illustrious history of the WWF. WrestleMania 6 also set a SkyDome attendance record by welcoming 67,678 fans. That record has stood for 12 years, however, as we all know, records are meant to be broken. On March 17th, we expect that WrestleMania 18 will set a new attendance record for SkyDome," said Seagram.

For his part, Ric Flair was thrilled to be back in Toronto.

"The reality of it is that Toronto is a great sports city. I have been coming here since 1978 so I feel that I have huge personal rapport with the city of Toronto. I love wrestling here. As a young wrestler growing up, if you could say you wrestled in the Maple Leaf Gardens, you clearly made it to the Big Time," said Flair. "Truly, the fans are what we (the WWF) think makes our company go and the fans in Toronto and all through Canada are some of the greatest sports and wrestling fans in the entire world."

"As a 50 per cent owner of the WWF, had I been involved in the selection committee earlier, Toronto would have been Number One right off the bat," Flair kidded about the WrestleMania process before naming Toronto Raptors Jerome Williams as the official Axxess Commissioner. Williams then in turn announced that teammate Tracy Murray would be a guest manager in a very special match planned for the first day of Axxess.


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