Indiana looks to long-term deal with WWE for boost tourism, local reporter weighs in

Image Credit: Visit Indy

Among the numerous tourist attractions that Indiana has, including the annual Indy 500 race and games featuring ultra-popular WNBA star Caitlin Clark, something new will soon be added to the city’s offerings: Top professional wrestling events.

Indiana has long been a frequent stop for WWE, having visited the state’s capital more than a hundred times over the past four decades. It has hosted countless episodes of Raw and Smackdown, while also hosting some of the bigger pay-per-view shows as well. But a new deal between WWE and not-for-profit organization Indiana Sports Corp has elevated the state’s level of wrestling events in a way that has never been attained before.

Indianapolis has only hosted seven PLE or PPV events since 1992. Over three decades, the city has seen a singular Wrestlemania and a Summerslam card as well. As part of the new agreement, WWE’s three biggest shows – the Royal Rumble, Summerslam, and of course Wrestlemania – will all head to the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis over the next few years. A city that has seen a few big shows for more than a quarter-century will now get many top events within a much shorter time.

Reporter Mickey Shuey of the Indiana Business Journal says that the state has long been in pursuit of another Wrestlemania, along with an attempt just a few years ago to snag the top pro wrestling show.

“Indiana has been working on bringing WWE events here really since the ’92 Wrestlemania and then 2008 Summerslam,” said Shuey on a recent episode of Pollock & Thurston. “But the last big effort came in 2018 when they were approached by WWE to bid on Wrestlemania. It ended up not going anywhere, but since then there’s kind of been this hankering to go after that and other wrestling properties again.”

The agreement between WWE and the Indiana Sports Corp is somewhat vague for now. Along with no specifics regarding the finances or length of the deal, we know little about when the actual events in the agreement will take place. Apart from a Royal Rumble in 2025, it’s unknown when other events in the deal will be booked.

This has unsurprisingly led many to ask the same question: What year will Indianapolis host Wrestlemania?

It’s hard to say if they will get the chance to do so even just less than two years from now in 2026. With next year’s event set for next year, 2025 is obviously out of the picture. What about a year later? Well, it’s hard to say right now. The placement of NCAA’s 2026 Final Four tournament, which is already booked for the Lucas Oil Stadium from April 4 to 6, calls into question whether they can host the event that year either.

The city’s top venue hosting a major NCAA tournament on the typical Wrestlemania weekend calls into question whether the event will be heading to the Mideast U.S. state in 2026. But Shuey doesn’t want to count out that year just yet.

“It would make it less likely that 2026 is where they end up with Wrestlemania, but I don’t think that’s out of the question at this point,” he said.

As part of the agreement, WWE will make trips to less-visited parts of the state. While they have gone to Indianapolis countless times over the years, WWE has serviced smaller parts of the state less frequently. The new agreement plans on having WWE shows in other parts of the state “To serve as an entry-point for new wrestling fans, for wrestling fans who have never been to a live event,” as Shuey explained.

In the TKO era, we have seen partnerships from UFC and WWE cross over. Notably, long-time WWE partner Saudi Arabia first inked a deal with UFC last year, allowing the MMA promotion to host their first-ever event in the country recently. A deal to bring UFC events to Perth, Australia was also reached shortly after WWE was brought to the Western part of the country for the Elimination Chamber this year. Because of this trend, it’s fair to wonder whether Indiana has an interest in hosting UFC events as well.

The history with UFC and Indiana isn’t as storied as WWE’s. Unlike the hundreds of wrestling events the state has hosted in the past, including many major cards, the MMA promotion has visited Indiana just twice since its inception in 1993. Could an agreement between the two parties bring the area its first UFC card in more than a decade?

“I asked the Sports Corp and WWE about whether a broader TKO partnership could be on the table here,” Shuey said. “It sounds like they’re open to it but we don’t have specifics of what that might look like at this point in time.”

A big focus will be on how the Royal Rumble does in Indianapolis next year. The success of that event is incredibly important for the partnership, Shuey described. If successful, it will only fuel a partnership that looks to last years at the very least.

About Jack Wannan 288 Articles
Jack Wannan is a journalist from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He writes and reports on professional wrestling, along with other topics like MMA, boxing, music, local news, and more. He graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He can be reached at [email protected]