As the World Wrestling Federation filed with the Securities
and Exchange Commission for its initial public offering last week, it got good news from
the Kansas City District Attorney's office: Prosecutors there will not serve any criminal
indictments after the investigation of the tragic accident at Kemper Arena that killed
wrestler Owen Hart.
Hart was killed during a May 23 pay-per-view event when the
cable that was attached to the harness lowering him into the ring snapped and he hurtled
50 feet downward. The incident was not shown live on the telecast.
At the time of the incident, authorities had speculated
that the quick-release mechanism in the harness was perhaps activated accidentally by Hart
or perhaps caught in his rigging or clothing. The district attorney's office could not be
reached for further comment.
This resolution gives the WWF and its chairman, Vince
McMahon, one less thing to worry about as he rolls out the welcome mat for Wall Street.
McMahon hopes to raise as much as $172.5 million to further brand-building efforts beyond
his weekly wrestling shows on USA Network, which consistently dominate basic-cable
McMahon must still contend with the wrongful-death lawsuit
filed by Hart's widow and children in June, but for now, he is moving ahead as the WWF
hopes to garner a spot on NASDAQ trading under the ticker symbol "WWFE."
The S-1 that was filed with the SEC last week revealed that
the company intends to sell class-A common shares. The filing also confirmed that McMahon
currently controls all of the company's stock.
Underwriters for the IPO will include Bear Stearns &
Co., Credit Suisse First Boston and Merrill Lynch & Co. McMahon's spokeswoman could
not be reached for comment.
It is believed that McMahon may put a significant portion
of the proceeds from the offering into opening a WWF-branded casino hotel in Las Vegas and
a record label, among other projects.
Both the WWF and its chief competitor, Time Warner Inc.'s
World Championship Wrestling, appear intent on finding new revenue streams behind the
power of their respective brands. Earlier this summer, WCW president Eric Bischoff opened
the first of his wrestling-themed restaurants in Las Vegas, WCW Nitro Grill.
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