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Fans count down the days until WrestleMania in Philadelphia, and local businesses prepare for boost

Philadelphia expects economic boost of tens of millions of dollars from WrestleMania
Philadelphia expects economic boost of tens of millions of dollars from WrestleMania 01:41

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — WWE fans are counting down the days until WrestleMania kicks off in Philadelphia later this week.

"I feel like I'm going to the Eras Tour again, but for wrestling," longtime pro-wrestling fan Jake Smith said.

The mega fan has attended 12 WrestleManias ever since he was a kid.

Throughout those years, he's collected several pieces of memorabilia from signed posters to belts and even wrestling ring gear.

He can't wait for the main event to return to his backyard.

"It feels like a homecoming in a sense," Smith said. "They haven't had it here since 1999, so it just feels really special that WrestleMania is going to be here in Philly."

The five-day fan experience starts on Thursday and finishes up on Monday.

Several events are happening in various places including The Filmore, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Wells Fargo Center and Lincoln Financial Field.

"I'm so excited, I cannot wait," WWE fan Natalia Saunders said.

A sign for Wrestlemania hangs near Philadelphia's City Hall
CBS News Philadelphia

The Rocky Shop by the Philadelphia Museum of Art is already prepared.

On Monday, the staff welcomed in a brand-new shipment of about 500 limited-edition shirts in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of WrestleMania.

"It was from the film Rocky III where Hulk Hogan and Stallone were fighting each other," Rocky Shop Visitor Experience and Operations Coordinator Samuel Warner said.

It's an iconic moment that Saunders loves.

She's such a big wrestling fan that she even got her daughter involved in the fandom.

"I named my daughter after a wrestler named Natalya," Saunders said.

Aside from local fans, the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association expects about 200,000 people to attend the events. Ed Grose with the association said 80% of them will be from outside of our area.

"Last year when the event was held at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles," Grose said, "they did $215 million in economic impact in the L.A. area. We're expected to come at least close to that, if not surpass it."

Grose also hopes fans will visit attractions throughout the city like local restaurants, Love Park and the Rocky Statue.

"We sold over 90,000 tickets, which is a record for WrestleMania," Grose said. "So, that's part of the reason why I'm so optimistic about this event."

It's an economic opportunity and a must-watch event that fans are counting down the days for.

"For me, this is something I just resonate with and something I get excited about," Smith said.

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