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Tony Khan Talks About How Long He’d Been In Negotiations To Use Arthur Ashe Stadium For AEW

June 21, 2021 | Posted by Joseph Lee
AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam

In an interview with PWInsider, AEW President Tony Khan spoke about getting the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City to use for AEW Dynamite Grand Slam in September. Here are highlights:

On finally debuting in the NYC market: “It’s tremendous. We wanted to do this for years. I’ve wanted to run this event at Arthur Ashe Stadium and we had planned to come here before the pandemic and we had to postpone it. Now there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic and I think now it’s great to be able to come here into New York City and do what I think could be our biggest ever AEW Dynamite Grand Slam here at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens with AEW making our debut, our first wrestling show ever in New York City. September 22nd is going to be really special. And one month from today, July 16th, the tickets go on sale for this event. It’s going to sell out, I honestly believe and it could be our biggest live event [that] we’ve ever done.

This Is one of the most iconic venues, not just in sports, but in the entire world. I think this is one of the most iconic venues and with the U.S. Open being associated here, to be able to come here right after the U.S. Open, one of the most iconic events in the world and such a special part of New York, iconic history and imagery here at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York. To be coming here, it means a lot. If you look around the capacity of this place, I bet every seat is a great seat here and there are about 20,000 seats here. We’re coming to our first show in the market. We’ll be a week earlier in Newark [New Jersey], but that’s a little different than here. We’re doing something very special there as well. That will be a great show that we’re doing and we’ve already sold almost 10,000 tickets. That was something that originally we also had planned before the pandemic. I’m really excited to come on September 15th and do that show in Newark, but to be here the next week and do Dynamite Grand Slam on September 22nd, our first show in New York City, we’ll be here and doing something so special.

I really believe we can do this every year and make AEW Dynamite Grand Slam one of the great events in wrestling. So, I’m very excited about it. I’m really excited about working with the USTA and I’m grateful for the Arthur Ashe Stadium for hosting us.”

On how long they had been in negotiations for the venue: “[We were] looking at this for over two years. I probably started talking to them and I mean, well over a year ago, a little over a year and a half ago. I think we had planned right before the pandemic hit in March of 2020, and the outbreak happened. We had been deep in discussions and it was actually in March. We were talking a lot when we had to postpone things, but it’s great to be back here and to finally be able to announce this show and the venue.”

On ticket sales and their Jacksonville residency: “We have many great things happening around AEW….we’re going to be finishing out our run in Jacksonville. I’m very excited later in the month to get back to Wednesday Night Dynamite. We’ll do our last Wednesday night Dynamite in Jacksonville and say goodbye to the great fans who have supported us every week in Jacksonville. They’ve been really watched all over the world. I mean, there’s a there’s hundreds and hundreds of people sometimes that were a thousand, you know, for the, for the top shows like Winter is Coming and the Brodie Lee Tribute Show, the great audience we had for those shows and the big pay-per-views we did where we were running it 25% capacity.

We started at 20%, which is about a thousand as Daily’s Place’s capacity is 5,000. Then, we got up to 1,250 and for Full Gear, Revolution and All Out, we had these great crowds that supported us. The most special night of all for the Daily’s Place crowd, in my opinion, I think, is that the Brody Lee tribute show we did in December last year. That was really the most important show we’ve ever done and the most important thing I think we’ve ever done as a company. We said goodbye to our friend. We said goodbye to one of the great men and one of the great people in wrestling and somebody who everybody said the same thing. I think it captures the spirit of Brody Lee that this man loved his family and he loved wrestling. Those are the two things everybody said about him and they’re both very true and that’s the man I knew. That’s why we paid tribute to him in, and thank you to all the people around Jacksonville that showed up every, every week and supported us and, you know, doing multiple shows, doing, you know, a few shows every month in the same market, over and over again. They showed up and supported us.

We take the show back on the road in July and right away, start out this huge, welcome back in July, beginning with Road Rager Dynamite in Miami, our first show on the road, it’s going to be awesome. Then to FyterFest for two weeks in Texas….amazing, amazing sales we’ve already had before we even announced that it was going to be Fyterfest with over 3,500 tickets already sold in both markets. We’ll definitely sell out those towns, Austin and Dallas.

In Charlotte, already a huge advance also. In all these markets ahead of where we were last year as live events, which is really exciting because we were the number one wrestling live events company in the world per show. It’s a fact in 2019 before the pandemic, we were even hotter in 2020 before the pandemic hit. By default, we were the number one wrestling company in attendance, in North America through the pandemic. I expect in 2021, we can hit that again and be the number one attendance wrestling company in the world without missing a beat and we’ll have great ticket sales.

Charlotte’s [doing] great. After that, we’ll be doing a lot of great things. We will do a homecoming episode in Jacksonville and I am excited about that, but we’re also trying to hit all the markets that we announced shows in before the pandemic. Of course, I mentioned Newark. We had a great crowd set for there. We’re going to have a great audience in Newark, on September 15th, the week before we come here for Dynamite Grand Slam.

We’ve got great shows on the road. Of course, we’ll be going through the Midwest, near my home market and Illinois and doing All Out there. We’ll have some great shows in Chicago. We’ll be bringing the AEW Fan Fest to the Chicago area, to Hoffman estates, the Schaumburg area, where so many of my old friends and my old stomping grounds and where I’ve watched a lot of wrestling and I am, excited to do a lot of shows in the Midwest and make up some shows that we were supposed to do.

Not only are we going to do AEW Rampage in St. Louis on Friday night, but we’re also going to do Full Gear in St. Louis in November. There were a lot of great Dynamites that were supposed to happen all over the country in 2020 that we weren’t able to do. Well, we’re going to do that now in 2021 and also hit some new markets including here with where we are right now in Arthur Ashe Stadium. So, it’s going to be a really great year for live events and bringing the fans back to wrestling. I think it’s going to be, people are excited for it, but I think it’s going to be even better. I think, in my opinion, Double or Nothing [2021] gave people a great taste of what a packed stadium could be like, and Daily’s Place was the perfect place to do it in my opinion, to sell out and have a show and it was really, really great. So now here, this is going to be the perfect place. Arthur Ashe Stadium, this is the perfect place to do AEW Dynamite’s debut in New York City.”

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AEW, Joseph Lee