With only two weeks to go until WrestleMania comes to MetLife Stadium, World Wrestling Entertainment is hoping to make its impact felt well beyond the northern New Jersey economy.
The Stamford, Conn.-based entertainment giant announced today it will host a two-week, global online auction to benefit the highest-profile charities for Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York. In a news release, the WWE said it will be selling experiences with celebrities and its own performers, with the auction culminating in a live portion and reception on April 4 at Cipriani Wall Street, in New York City, three days before its signature event.
WrestleMania's descent on New Jersey comes as companies consider the impact the event is likely to have on their businesses.
Wayne Hasenbalg, president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, said the event will follow the WWE's $25,000 donation to the state relief fund immediately after Sandy. He also noted that after the storm, the company quietly canceled a WrestleMania kickoff party scheduled for early November that was supposed to mark the start of ticket sales.
"WWE came to us with this proposal. This isn't something we asked them to do," said Hasenbalg, whose agency is helping coordinate the WWE's weeklong slate of activities around WrestleMania. "I think that says a lot about them."
The auction, which will be run through Charitybuzz.com, starts today and ends April 9, the news release said. Proceeds from "Superstars for Sandy Relief" will benefit the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City.
The WWE's annual slate of philanthropy and outreach for WrestleMania week, which seeks to capitalize on the attention given to the event, includes hospital visits, reading contests and other charity efforts on both sides of the Hudson River. But John Saboor, the WWE's senior vice president for special events, said contributing to the region's recovery was an obvious choice for its focus this year.
"What was so clear was that this was a priority that was going to last for the long term," Saboor said. "And as such, WWE felt that we could provide some level of complement to that ongoing work by supporting specifically Governor (Chris) Christie and Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg's efforts."