WrestleMania 39 in Los Angeles had plenty of action, both inside and outside the ring.
WWE announced the event as “the most successful WrestleMania of all time.” But shoehorned into the proceedings was the bombshell announcement that WWE was acquired by Endeavor, the company that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The WWE promotion machine did a great job building the two-day event at Sofi Stadium, with crowds of more than 80,000 fans both nights, April 1 and 2. WrestleMania 39 set new records for viewership, gate, sponsorship, merchandise and social media. The gate of more than $21.6 million broke the previous WWE record by 27%. Sponsorship revenue eclipsed $20 million, more than doubling the previous record, and merchandise sales were up 20% versus the record set in 2022.
“We were proud to host the most successful WrestleMania ever, breaking our attendance record and welcoming fans from over 60 countries and all 50 states,” said Jason Gannon, managing director, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park. “SoFi Stadium and Los Angeles are poised to host global sports and entertainment events that are profitable for promoters and create memorable experiences for attendees.”
The Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission is no stranger to organizing huge events and WrestleMania added another feather in the LASEC cap.
“Hosting WrestleMania has been a great extension to all the major events we’re hosting across the Los Angeles region this decade,” said Jason Krutzsch, LASEC vice president of marketing, content and communications. “It started back in 2021 with the MLS All-Star Game, then Super Bowl 56 in SoFi Stadium a year ago and then the MLB All-Star Game and the CFP National Championship game. Now having WrestleMania here for two sold out nights is really exciting.”
Not only were there more than 160,000 people at Sofi Stadium, but the WrestleMania weekend was bookended by WWE Smackdown on March 31 and Monday Night Raw on April 3, both of which packed Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles. There was also a wildly popular WWE Superstore experience at the LA Convention Center as well as some fan activations. The total economic impact for Los Angeles won’t be known until this summer, but the 2022 WrestleMania estimated economic impact in Dallas was $206.5 million. The numbers should be similar — or even exceed that — for Los Angeles.
“WrestleMania has been a tremendous event for the region, with multiple shows at Crypto.com Arena, and then the two nights of sold out shows at SoFi Stadium,” Krutzsch said. “Just seeing the passion of the fans is something special and it’s something you could feel in the building both nights. It was electric and I would tell someone who’s never been to WrestleMania before that they have to do it — you just have to see it in person to understand how special it is.”
SoFi Stadium dazzled as the WrestleMania host, transforming into sports entertainment’s version of the Roman Coliseum. The visual of more than 80,000 fans was impressive enough, but the roar of the crowd from floor level rivaled that of any sporting event. The massive videoboard provided every fan in the stadium with a view of the proceedings down in the ring.
“The Infinity Screen enhances the experience for everybody inside the bowl and makes every seat in the stadium more intimate and involves everybody in the presentation of the event,” Krutzsch said.
A New Era
Amidst all the success of the weekend, there was another reason WWE was in the news: Several hours before the second night’s action began, it was reported it would be the last WrestleMania of the Vince McMahon era. CNBC’s Alex Sherman dropped the bombshell in the afternoon of April 2 that Endeavor, the company that owns the UFC, would be purchasing WWE for $9.3 billion.
There had been speculation leading to WrestleMania that McMahon was close to reaching a deal to sell the company that he bought from his father, Vince McMahon Sr., in 1982 for $1 million. WWE was reportedly using its event at SoFi Stadium to showcase the company’s worth to prospective buyers. When WWE staff in the press box at SoFi told the media that nobody in the company would be giving any interviews during the weekend, it raised eyebrows that something big was about to go down.
The sale to Endeavor was announced April 3. Endeavor said in a press release it will form a new publicly traded company comprised of UFC and WWE. The new company will be 51% owned by Endeavor and 49% by existing WWE shareholders.
“This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed,” said Ariel Emanuel, Endeavor chief executive officer. “For decades, Vince and his team have demonstrated an incredible track record of innovation and shareholder value creation, and we are confident that Endeavor can deliver significant additional value for shareholders by bringing UFC and WWE together.”
McMahon added: “Together, we will be a $21+ billion live sports and entertainment powerhouse with a collective fanbase of more than a billion people and an exciting growth opportunity. The new company will be well positioned to maximize the value of our combined media rights, enhance sponsorship monetization, develop new forms of content and pursue other strategic mergers and acquisitions to further bolster our strong stable of brands.”
Paul “Triple H” Levesque, a WWE Hall of Fame wrestler who now is the company’s chief content officer, made it clear that business will continue as usual after the completion of the merger. Levesque opened the Monday Night Raw episode on April 3 to a thunderous ovation from the crowd and said, “The same WWE that you love — the same WWE that put 160,000 people into the rafters in SoFi Stadium — is going nowhere. We will be here week-in and week-out, packed stadium after packed stadium… because we are the WWE.”