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Christie: WrestleMania to generate ‘tens of millions of dollars' in N.J.

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Gov. Chris Christie officially announced today that WWE's Wrestlemania will come to MetLife Stadium next year, bringing to New Jersey an event that has generated more than $200 million in economic activity to its recent host regions.

The event will be held April 7, 2013, bringing with it a weeklong series of activities expected to span New Jersey and New York. Wrestlemania is the flagship event for Connecticut-based World Wrestling Entertainment, which reportedly considered multiple venues before picking the 70,000-seat stadium in East Rutherford.

The announcement, which NJBIZ first reported Thursday, marks the latest in a line of high-profile sporting and entertainment events New Jersey has attracted during the Christie administration. They include the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium and Formula One Grand Prix of America, which is set to come to Hudson County for at least 10 years beginning in June 2013.

"You're going to have fans from all across the country and from around the world who are going to come, generating tens of millions of dollars in all type of economic activity for this area," Christie said today at a press conference at the stadium. He was joined by New Jersey business leaders, as well as WWE wrestlers and executives.

The event will be the fifth Wrestlemania in the New York area since 1985 and the third in New Jersey, Christie said. Wrestlemanias IV and V were held in Atlantic City.

WWE has an "unbelievable brand and an unbelievable following," said Jim Kirkos, CEO of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce. He called today's announcement "an affirmation that we have the assets to complement great events like this in this region, and it means that we can attract more of these types of events."

"Our ability to bring them back to this area in the future increases exponentially every time we do a big event like this," Kirkos said. "That's why it's so important."

Kirkos said he was planning to go to Miami in late March to study this year's Wrestlemania, which is being held at Sun Life stadium. Last year's installment sold out the 71,000-seat Georgia Dome.

The Meadowlands sports complex also is slated to be home to the American Dream Meadowlands, the sprawling retail and entertainment complex formerly known as Xanadu. Canadian developer Triple Five has said it will complete the long-stalled project, but has been quiet in recent months as it works to arrange a full financing plan.

The developer, which also owns the Mall of America, in Minnesota, also has been working through an environmental review process for the complex's amusement and water park components, which would be partially built on a tract of wetlands.

Wayne Hasenbalg, CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, said today that "everything's proceeding in normal fashion, and we are hopeful that the financing will come together in the very near future." But he added that the amusement and water parks did not appear likely to be open by the Super Bowl in early 2014.

"But we're very hopeful that the rest of the complex will be up and running and potentially available for use by the Super Bowl," Hasenbalg said.

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