WrestleMania in Tampa? Hillsborough plans a bid

We've hosted Super Bowls, Final Fours (men's and women's) and the American League Championship Series. But is the Tampa Bay area big enough for WrestleMania? Tampa Bay & Co., Hillsborough's tourism marketing agency, expects to submit a bid next week to hold professional wrestling's biggest event at Raymond James Stadium between 2011 and 2014. "Once you get over the smirks about men wearing Spandex,'' says Norwood Smith of Tampa Bay & Co., "it really is an amazing event.'' And a lucrative one. Nearly 75,000 fans packed Orlando's Citrus Bowl last year for WrestleMania 24, with three out of four coming from outside Central Florida. The economic impact was estimated at $51.5 million. World Wrestling Entertainment, which owns the event, will pick four WrestleMania host cities by mid July. Separately, Tampa Bay & Co. is preparing a proposal to host World Cup Soccer games at Raymond James if the United States is picked as the tournament site in 2018 or 2022.

AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR: Tampa Bay & Co. has selected the Glazer family, owners of the local NFL franchise, as its Ambassador of the Year. The Glazers were largely responsible for bringing the last two Super Bowls to Tampa, said Paul Catoe, the agency's chief executive. He noted at a meeting of Tampa Bay & Co. directors Thursday that the Glazers "purchased the team from a bad owner we had for a number of years'' — the deceased Tampa tax attorney Hugh Culverhouse.

WrestleMania in Tampa? Hillsborough plans a bid 04/23/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 23, 2009 6:47pm]

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