Khan hopes to host Wrestlemania and ‘cement London as sports capital of the world’

The Labour mayor will set up a taskforce to attract more US sports if he is re-elected mayor next week, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Wrestlemania could be coming to London (credit Schen via Wikimedia Commons)
Wrestlemania could be coming to London (credit Schen via Wikimedia Commons)

The American wrestling event WrestleMania could be held in London under Sadiq Khan’s plans to bring more big sporting events to the capital.

He has also pledged to campaign for the return of NBA basketball games to “fully cement London’s reputation as the undisputed sports capital of the world”, and has a “longer-term ambition” to bring the Superbowl to London for the first event outside of the US.

WrestleMania, which often attracts celebrity fans, is in its 40th year but has never been held in the UK. Its stars include Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, Ireland’s Becky Lynch and Scotland’s Drew McIntrye.

Khan will set up a taskforce to attract more US sports if he is re-elected mayor next week.

He will explore a partnership with the Women’s Super League to grow the audience for women’s football in the capital. Arsenal Women regularly sell-out Arsenal’s 60,000-seat Emirates stadium, such is the popularity of their matches.

Khan said: “I believe that London has the potential to host the first international WrestleMania.”

The Labour mayor has already announced his intention to try to bring the Olympics back to London in 2040 should he win the election on 2nd May. However he previously said he wanted the Olympics to return to London in 2036, and those hopes did not come to fruition.

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Khan also said he was committed to restoring Crystal Palace national sports centre to its former glory. He wrote in his manifesto: “I will complete its renovation, turning it into Britain’s first zero carbon major sports centre, and I’ll also work with partners to deliver the restoration of the famous Crystal Palace athletics stadium.”

The mayor was joined on a visit to Brixton on Thursday (25th) by Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s shadow culture and sports secretary.

She suggested to reporters however that if Labour forms the next government, it would not immediately provide more sports and culture funding for the Greater London Authority.

She told journalists: “Do you know, wouldn’t it be marvellous to be able to promise the moon? I would love to be able to.”

Arguing that Labour will inherit a terrible financial situation from the Conservatives, she added: “When we grow the economy – culture, sports and the creative industries are a huge part of that. They help bring more money into the economy and they create joy and jobs.

“I can’t wait to work alongside Sadiq Khan if he’s re-elected as mayor, and if there is a Labour government, championing culture and sports, which do so much to grow the economy, but which also benefit when the economy grows and people have more money in their pockets to spend on the creative industries, on going to the theatre, and on going to sporting occasions.”

Khan said: “There’s only been one occasion when there’s been a Labour mayor and a Labour government – and during that one occasion, we bid for and won the Olympics. I think the Olympics are really important in relation to regenerating communities, but also bringing people together.”

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