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World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE), The Madison Square Garden Co (MSG): WrestleMania’s Grapple with Growth

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The much ballyhooed 29th edition of WrestleMania, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:WWE)’s flagship event, reels off April 7, with its progenitor pulling all stops to elevate anew its ranking on Wall Street. The company, which also maintains a movie-making segment, is refocusing on what it does best—developing, producing, and marketing pro-wrestling events.

WWE indicated its renewed thrust at the end of February, when it reported improved 2012 fourth quarter results. The company revealed a three-year business plan with the potential of “doubling or tripling” World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:WWE)’s $77 million in 2012 EBITDA by 2015. The transformation of its business, the company said, will be based on the global appeal of WWE’s powerful brands, and that marketing will be one of the foundations of the company’s future growth.

Intensified efforts to build media values around events

The reinvigorated WWE brand-building is evident during this year’s “WrestleMania Week” leading up to the company’s April 7 extravaganza at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Prior to the event, certain World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:WWE) star wrestlers, along with Hollywood celebrities and other professional athletes, will participate in an auction/fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief.

A greater media presence is likely to be found at the induction ceremonies for Bruno Sammartino, who’s entering the WWE Hall of Fame. With a record-setting eight-year reign as WWE champion, Sammartino will be inducted by his longtime pal and Hollywood and bodybuilding icon, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A brewing sideshow in the Garden

Fittingly enough for added media hype, the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:WWE) Hall of Fame induction will be held at the The Madison Square Garden Co (NASDAQ:MSG) sports arena, which hosted the WrestleMania inaugurals in 1985 and spread the mat again in 1994 and 2004. Sammartino, for his part, has reportedly sold out events at the Garden 187 times.

Such nostalgic vignettes and other historical qualities at the Garden, however, seem trivial for the Regional Plan Association and the Municipal Art Society of New York. In March, these two leading city-planning groups launched a joint advocacy campaign to relocate the Garden after its land-use permit expired in January.

Expansion of Pennsylvania Station, which is beneath the arena, is the main rationale for the move. The Madison Square Garden Co (NASDAQ:MSG) has already objected to the plan, citing economic contributions and the arena’s 130-year history as being integral to New York City. Plus, a three-year renovation costing nearly $1 billion is also under way at the Garden, the company added.

This brewing tempest in a teapot fortunately, for the moment, spares Madison Square Garden’s other cash crops, such as marquee teams New York Knicks and New York Rangers. With the company reporting strong fiscal 2013 second quarter results and the NBA and NHL now humming at the tills, The Madison Square Garden Co (NASDAQ:MSG)’s scorecard still tallies a buy among several stock analysts.

Raking it at the tills and PPV

The brewing Garden controversy aside, “WrestleMania Week” indeed manifests the strength and potential of the WWE brands. Tickets to the Sammartino induction have become one of the rarest commodities on the planet, wags say. Record live attendance valued at $12 million and pay-per-view orders worth more than $1 million are also forecast for the MetLife main event.

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