DENVER – World Wrestling Entertainment will move three wrestling events from various Colorado arenas to the STAPLES Center after a Denver Nuggets playoff game created a scheduling conflict at the Pepsi Center.
Dubbed the “Denver Debacle,” a schedule conflict erupted after the Denver Nuggets advanced to the Western Conference Finals putting Game 4 of the seven game series on the same night, and location, as the WWE’s Live Raw event: May 25 at the Pepsi Center.
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, speaking live on 4 O’Clock at 9NEWS, said the WWE was cancelling the Pepsi Center event along with a May 24 event in Loveland and a May 26 show in Colorado Springs.
All three shows will move to the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, home of the Denver Nuggets’ current opponent, the LA Lakers.
McMahon said WWE would return to Colorado with an engagement at the Denver Coliseum on August 7. A spokeswoman for the Coliseum said the WWE would determine when tickets would go on sale for that event.
“We need to get back and make it right,” said McMahon. “We’re going to do the right thing by our audience for sure and that’s why we’re coming back in August.”
McMahon stressed that his issue is not with fans in Colorado, but with Nuggets and Pepsi Center owner Stan Kroenke.
“I didn’t create this controversy, it’s Stan Kroenke’s inept management which created this controversy and quite frankly Kroenke’s management is driving us out of Denver. We don’t want to leave Denver, they’re driving us out,” he said. “They wouldn’t even make a deal unless there was a joint press release. You wouldn’t believe the things they wanted me to say.”
Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE) Executive Vice President Paul Andrews confirmed they were asking for a joint release, but said he thought an amicable solution had been reached in principle.
Andrews said KSE first learned of McMahon’s intentions to move the events when he appeared live on 4 O’Clock at 9NEWS.
McMahon had previously asked for five tickets to the Nuggets-Lakers game on May 25 to facilitate a face-to-face meeting with Kroenke, who he had repeatedly insulted on television.
“Vince was remorseful for his outrageous statements,” said Andrews.
KSE suggested in a written statement that McMahon was more interested in publicity than a solution.
“Despite the propaganda campaign launched by WWE and Chairman Vince McMahon, the KSE team maintained a professional manner throughout this process. We had hoped for, and worked hard toward an amicable resolution – which we verbally had on Tuesday,” Andrews said in a written statement.
“We understand there will be many disappointed WWE fans in the Denver area. It’s unfortunate and disappointing that WWE executives ultimately chose this path. The sensationalism employed by WWE in this instance is not surprising,” the statement read. “The amount of publicity and coverage enjoyed by their group over the last few days has clearly become their new business goal instead of finalizing what we thought was a favorable solution and ultimately allowed their fans to attend the event.”
McMahon said he would not rule out bringing WWE back to the Pepsi Center at some point, but it was clear his frustration with Kroenke hadn’t subsided.
“It’s really unfortunate because if he were just a regular business man and picked up the phone and said, ‘Vince, you know, we’re throwing you out but I want to make it right, what can we do?’ I never heard from Kroenke, I don’t know if anyone else has either, by the way, he’s somewhat of a Howard Hughes guy I understand,” he said.
“I think our company has been damaged severely from a financial standpoint and from a psychological standpoint as well. You don’t treat people the way Kroenke’s management treated us,” he said. “I’m not a litigious kind of guy, but quite frankly when we have a contract and we have over 10,000 tickets sold and you just say: we’re out, and we’re not going to do anything for you, you know we’re not going to make any restitution. We may pay for your additional expenses, that’s it. There could very well be a lawsuit down the road.”
After the conflict was publicized, various arenas offered to host the WWE Raw event including Madison Square Garden in New York City and the STAPLES Center.
The Denver Nuggets, down one game in the series, are set to take on the Lakers at the Pepsi Center on both Saturday and Monday evening.
Ticketmaster did not respond to a request for comment but did put . Those calls were not immediately returned, but Ticketmaster did put up a statement on its Web site.
“The Pepsi Center regrets to announce the WWE scheduled on Monday, May 25, 2009 has been cancelled. All phone/Internet orders will be automatically credited back the ticket price + convenience charge. Tickets purchased via Ticketmaster Ticket Centers or the Pepsi Center Box Office will need to be returned to the point of purchase to obtain a refund,” said the statement on Ticketmaster.com.
McMahon said rescheduling the events in Denver would take some time to work out and all three Colorado events were cancelled because the entire crew had to go to California.
“You know we’re the second largest traveling show in the world, second only to Ringling Bros.,” he said.
As for coming back to the Pepsi Center, “I never say never, quite frankly I think that’s ridiculous for anyone to do,” McMahon said.