Mayor of 'Mania
"We've got two words for you… ‘Choose Orlando.'"
It was that line—paraphrased from D-Generation X, of course—that started off the written proposal given by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Central Florida Sports Commissioner John Saboor to Mr. McMahon and WWE executives in an effort to lure WrestleMania XXIV to the most visited tourist destination in the world.
The line, and the top-notch proposal, worked brilliantly as WWE indeed chose O-town to host the Grandest Stage of Them All. Now, more than a year later, the efforts of Mayor Dyer and his team are finally coming to fruition as WrestleMania XXIV rolls into Central Florida.
"Orlando is extremely happy to host an event of this magnitude," Dyer told WWE.com. "We jumped at the opportunity to make it happen."
So much so, in fact, that Dyer took the unprecedented step as mayor of flying to WWE corporate headquarters in Stamford, Conn. and lobbying Mr. McMahon face-to-face, supplying letters of support from local businesses and government officials, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Dyer is also well aware of the economic windfall his city is likely to reap as a result of the WrestleMania XXIV festivities. Last year's host city, Detroit—hardly a tourist Mecca—raked in an estimated $30 million thanks to the attendance of roughly 80,000 fans. Dyer estimates that Orlando will also benefit to the tune of an estimated $25 million to $30 million in new spending.
"I believe WrestleMania will rival Orlando's busiest time of year, Bowl-a-Palooza [an annual series of events geared at college football fans]," explained Dyer, who said he's eager to attend his first WrestleMania. "Actually, I'm excited about this whole week. I'll be attending several of the WWE promotional events in the days leading up to Sunday."
The whole city, it seems, is coming down with WrestleMania madness: signs for the event have popped up all over, and the airwaves are abuzz. So enthused are Orlando officials, said Dyer, that an enormous "WrestleMania XXIV" logo has been painted next to one of the tarmacs at the Orlando International Airport, to welcome fans flying in from all over the world.
"I remember growing up and looking forward to [watching] Championship Wrestling from Florida," recalled Dyer, of the now-defunct wrestling promotion. "We had [announcer] Gordon Solie, Dusty Rhodes, the Brisco brothers and Eddie Graham. Now, I have that same kind of excitement leading up to WrestleMania this Sunday."