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January 14, 2017

How New Orleans wooed WrestleMania back to the Superdome

In early 2016, a delegation of New Orleans officials traveled to Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.

Their mission: Convince the WWE brass, including ever-colorful Chairman Vince McMahon, to stage WrestleMania 34, professional wrestling’s marquee extravaganza, in New Orleans in 2018.

Their unconventional pitch included a video of Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrestling with his kids and a Krewe of Muses shoe custom-made for McMahon’s daughter Stephanie, who is WWE’s chief brand officer and a “villain” in wrestling storylines.

In honor of their audience, the New Orleanians also assumed wrestling nicknames.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu was, naturally, His Honor. Deputy mayor Ryan Berni was The Deputy. The team included “Funky” Fay Nedd of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and Sam “The Silent Assassin” Joffray of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, the nonprofit group that coordinates the city’s bids for major sporting events.

“We had a little fun with it, but this was a serious business pitch,” recalled Sports Foundation President/CEO Jay Cicero, who, as the presentation’s emcee, was exempt from a nickname.

Vince McMahon and his staff “are the masters of entertainment and nicknames,” Cicero said. “We wondered what they were thinking. But we got some chuckles.”

They got more than chuckles. Thanks in part to an incentive package that reportedly included no direct payments from the city or state, the WWE eventually selected New Orleans to host WrestleMania 34 on April 8, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome...More?

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