WrestleMania is latest “big fish” in five-month run for Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation

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The run of landing “big fish” continues for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.

In less than five months, the Sports Foundation and city and state leaders have landed the following events: next month’s NBA All-Star weekend, the 2022 Men’s Final Four, the CBS Sports Classic college basketball doubleheader in December, and Tuesday’s announcement of WrestleMania returning to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 8, 2018.

“New Orleans is really on a roll, and the Sports Foundation is leading the charge on that,” said GNOSF president and CEO Jay Cicero.

WrestleMania is coming back to the Crescent City for the second time in five years and its return coincides with the city’s tricentennial celebration.

“The return of WrestleMania speaks volumes about the value of the Sports Foundation and our host committee’s relationship with event owners,” said Cicero.

Tuesday was anything but your typical news conference. Gov. John Bel Edwards, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other dignitaries got the same treatment as the WWE superstars, with flashing lights and walk-out music.

The Sports Foundation got the help of Saints quarterback Drew Brees as part of their bid package. Brees and his family are wrestling fans and attended Monday night’s WWE Raw event at Smoothie King Center.

“His kids put together a video with him wrestling in their living room and helped us present the family aspect of this event,” Cicero said.

Besides the more recent announcements, the Sports Foundation has helped land the 2020 College Football Playoff national championship game and the Women’s Final Four.

Add in the annual R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, and the Sports Foundation is responsible for “$800 million in economic impact and $25 million in new, additional tax revenue over the next five years alone,” Cicero said.

“These major events are back in New Orleans,” he added, “where they belong.”

The last word on this day wasn’t from a city, state or even a WWE official, but from WWE star The Undertaker, whose 21-year unbeaten streak at WrestleMania came to an end in New Orleans three years ago.

“I guess there’s only one more thing to say,” said The Undertaker. “Let the good times roll.”

For those responsible for landing major events in New Orleans, the good times have been rolling since last summer.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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