Indianapolis on deck to host major WWE events, including first WrestleMania since 1992

By Mickey Shuey

Indianapolis Business Journal

Can you smell what Indianapolis is cooking?

World Wrestling Entertainment is close to an agreement with the Indiana Sports Corp. to present several events in Indianapolis over the next few years — including its flagship WrestleMania, Royal Rumble and SummerSlam shows — according to sources familiar with the deal.

The sources, who spoke to IBJ on the condition of anonymity, said the deal with WWE has not been finalized, although one described the conversations as being in the “later stages” with the parties continuing to iron out specific details. The tentative agreement, which IBJ sources have described as one of the biggest deals in WWE history, was first reported by wrestling news outlet WrestleVotes.

The deal is expected to run at least seven years and would include WrestleMania, which has taken place in Indianapolis only once before (1992), and SummerSlam, which the city last hosted in 2008. The city would also host Royal Rumble for the first time as part of the agreement.

Specific dates for SummerSlam and WrestleMania have not been finalized, as conversations between WWE, Indiana Sports Corp. and local tourism officials about venue and hotel room availability are ongoing. Royal Rumble has a tentative date of Feb. 1, 2025. All three shows would be held at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The still-prospective partnership would also consist of multiple WWE events per year for the city, with a mix of Smackdown, Monday Night Raw, pay-per-view events and non-televised “house” shows held at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The agreement also opens the door for shows in other Indiana markets like Fort Wayne and Evansville, the latter of which will host Monday Night Raw on Sept. 30 as part of a separate agreement.

Financial terms of the deal between the Indiana Sports Corp. and WWE have not been disclosed, but IBJ’s sources said the sports tourism agency is tapping into the state’s $5 million tourism bid fund to sweeten the deal. That fund was created in 2022 and received its first funding allocation as part of the state’s 2023-2025 biennial budget, as part of an effort to lure more big events — including WrestleMania — to Indianapolis.

A deal between Indiana Sports Corp. and WWE would be among the most comprehensive ever struck by the professional wrestling kingpin. In 2018, the company secured a long-term deal with Saudi Arabia to host events in the country through 2028; that deal could be renewed in the coming years to include flagship productions like Royal Rumble or WrestleMania.

Sources told IBJ that the deal to consistently bring professional wrestling to Indianapolis is among the most significant deals local sports tourism officials have struck over the past decade.

Indianapolis has hosted several live WWE events dating to the early 1990s, most recently the 2023 Fastlane premium live event at Gainbridge Fieldhouse that drew a crowd of more than 14,500 and featured Pat McAfee teasing the crowd that Indianapolis “deserved a WrestleMania.” This deal was already well in the works at the time of that show. The venue is also set to host Raw on Monday — an event that is expected to serve as a backdrop for an official announcement about the agreement between the city and WWE.

WrestleMania, the two-day flagship event of WWE, would likely provide a major tourism boost for central Indiana, as would the other big events.

The 1992 show in Indianapolis, a one-day affair featuring headliners Sid Justice, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Randy Savage, drew 62,167 people to the Hoosier Dome. WrestleMania became a two-day event starting in 2020.

According to SportsTravel Magazine, an industry trade publication, WrestleMania alone injects about $200 million annually into the economy of its host city and draws crowds of 120,000 to 150,000 people, a mix of local traffic and visitors. The economic impact figure includes the event itself as well as numerous ancillary wrestling shows that often to take place across the city in connection to — but independent from — WWE’s event.

WrestleMania, which is generally held in early to mid-April, has taken place outside the Midwest for more than 15 years, with the last such event in the region in Detroit in 2007. The 2025 shows are set for Las Vegas, with expectations of drawing as many as 180,000 visitors.

But hosting the event is a costly endeavor as well, with some economists pegging the price tag for host cities at about $20 million, with most of the cost tied to added security and road controls, discounts on stadium rentals and other spaces, and tax or financial incentives offered to entice WWE to select the city as a host.

Indiana Sports Corp. officials declined to comment. WWE officials could not immediately be reached for comment.