PHOENIX (April 13, 2010) — Phoenix is one city that doesn’t take a spring break.
Warm weather and bountiful sunshine make Greater Phoenix a prime destination for springtime sporting and entertainment events, and this year was no different. The biggest of those of events — Cactus League Spring Training and NASCAR’s Subway Fresh Fit 600, both seasonal rights in America’s sunniest metropolis, and WWE WrestleMania, which joined Greater Phoenix’s spring roster for 2010 — will pump an estimated $800 million into the local economy.
The Cactus League, which added two new teams this season, attracted 1.47 million fans to its 11 stadiums, all but two of which are located in Greater Phoenix. Per-game attendance increased 5 percent over 2009, when the Cactus League had a $359 million economic impact on Arizona’s economy.
Spring training’s monthlong schedule of games wrapped up April 3, but the sound of cracking bats will soon be replaced by the roar of stock-car engines as NASCAR rolls into town this weekend with Sprint Cup and Nationwide events at Phoenix International Raceway. The green flag drops on the weekend’s main draw, the Subway Fresh Fit 600, on Saturday night.
NASCAR’s annual visits to Greater Phoenix (another event comes to PIR in November) provide an economic impact of more than $400 million to Arizona, and events like Saturday night’s attract more than 100,000 to the raceway.
Adding muscle to Greater Phoenix’s mega-event portfolio this spring was WrestleMania XXVI, which was staged March 28 at University of Phoenix Stadium in front of more than 72,000 fans.
WrestelMania and its weeklong parade of accompanying events — which began with a charity art exhibition at the InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa and climaxed with a live performance of the popular TV show “Raw” at US Airways Center — pumped an estimated $50 million in direct spending into Greater Phoenix’s economy.
Prior to the main event, thousands of visitors and locals streamed into the Phoenix Convention Center to check out WrestleMania Axxess, a four-day fan experience that is similar to the NFL Experience (which accompanied Super Bowl XLII in 2008) and All-Star Jam Session (which accompanied the NBA All-Star Game in 2009).
The main event itself attracted 72,219 fans from all 50 states and 26 countries. According to World Wrestling Entertainment, WrestleMania XXVI grossed $5.8 million, making it the highest grossing event in the history of University of Phoenix Stadium. (The previous record was a U2 concert in October 2009 that attracted 50,775 fans and grossed $4.9 million.)
“WrestleMania, as a sheer spectator experience, is on par with mega sporting events like the Super Bowl and NBA All-Star Game,” said Marc Garcia, Vice President of Visitor Marketing and Community Development at the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We worked hard to bring WrestleMania to Greater Phoenix, and we are extremely happy with its impact on the community.”
WrestleMania is historically a fan favorite. The spectacle attracted more than 80,000 fans to Detroit’s Ford Field in 2007, and nearly 75,000 to Orlando’s Citrus Bowl in 2008. The 72,000-plus fans who packed University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday exceeded the attendance of Super Bowl XLII, which was held in the stadium two years ago.
According to a study commissioned by the WWE and City of Orlando last year, WrestleMania generated $8.2 million in taxes in Central Florida, including $1.8 million for local governments.