In recent years the WrestleMania III world indoor attendence record of 93,173 has come under dispute mainly due to Dave Meltzer (Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor) and information he was given by Zane Bresloff who helped promote the event back in 1987 in Michigan with the WWF (now WWE). Bresloff gave Meltzer an attendence figure "around 78,000" and thus the controversy began.
Now I have always believed the 93,000 number, and I still do! Here's why:
1. The stadium seats 80,311 for football...WWF used the floor for additional seating easily adding 13,000 more to the attendance. If you watch the event or look at any pictures like the one above you can see there are no covered bleachers or empty sections the full stadium is used. Look at the upper decks for crying out loud, if there were gonna be empty seats that's where they would be!
2. In January of 1982 81,684 attended Super Bowl XVI there...1,300 more than the official seating capacity of the stadium.
3. Here is part of an article from the Detroit Free Press 3/25/87..."To hear the story from the World Wrestling Federation, which has sold more than 88,000 tickets to Sunday's 12-match card at the Silverdome, Hogan was born weighing 300 pounds and immediately began body-slamming."
4. Here is part of an article from the N.Y. TIMES 3/26/87... "Don't be surprised that the Pontiac Silverdome, with some 90,000 seats, is a sellout Sunday for WrestleMania III, an annual 12-match tribute to mayhem that serves as pro wrestling's Super Bowl."
5. Gene Okerlund on the WrestleMania III home video speaking 24 hours before the event gives an attendance number of 92,926 as the number he had at that point and he said it was already a new world record. That number is 247 less than the announced attendance the next day.
6. WrestleMania III was not shown on closed circuit or pay per view in the state of Michigan in order to swell tickets sales. From the Detroit Free Press 4/10/87..."Because it was staged at the Silverdome, WrestleMania III was blacked out on Michigan cable systems."
7. The Pope's 1987 visit to the Silverdome a few months later drew 93,682 breaking the world indoor record! the WWE still claims the record for largest indoor crowd for a "sports or entertainment" event. I guess the Pope's mass wasn't very entertaining...ha ha!
8. Finally, this all happened at the peak of pro wrestling's popularity! Hulkamania was running wild! TV ratings were huge and the Hogan/Giant storyline went over like nothing before.
From Wikipedia on Saturday Night's Main Event..."Saturday Night's Main Event was a tremendous ratings success for NBC during its heyday, most notably on the Feb 14, 1987 show, which drew an 11.6 rating, which to this day remains the highest rating any show has ever done in that time slot.
That show was headlined by a battle royal featuring Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, who were slated to face each other at WrestleMania III."
***NEW!! ADDED 4/6/10*** 9. At the 2010 WWE Hall Of Fame ceremony NBC executive Dick Ebersol (there to induct Bob Ueker) talked about being at the Silverdome in late January of 1987 with Vince McMahon and others mapping out the stadium and the seating. He mentioned that the Silverdome held a little less than 80,000 for football but they had found a way to put 93,000 seats in there for WrestleMania III.
So based on all the information I accumulated in my research I am a believer in the announced attendance of 93,173. Of course I could be wrong and only the "powers that be" in the WWE know for sure, but based on my research I will continue to believe a record was set that day in Michigan.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!