Advertisement

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption to the lives of everyone in Tampa Bay and to so many businesses in our community. Here at the Tampa Bay Times, we continue to provide free, up-to-date information at tampabay.com/coronavirus as a public service. But we need your help. Please consider supporting us by subscribing or donating, and by sharing our work. Thank you.

  1. Sports

WrestleMania 36 to go on as scheduled. But not in Tampa

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the WWE is moving its signature event to a closed set in Orlando
Hulk Hogan takes the stage during last March's announcement that WrestleMania 36 would be held at Raymond James Stadium in 2020. On Monday, the WWE announced it is moving the event to Orlando and holding it on a closed set. [Times (2019)]

Stories about the coronavirus pandemic are free to read as a public service at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Sign up for our DayStarter newsletter to receive updates weekday mornings. If this coverage is important to you, consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Tampa Bay Times at tampabay.com/subscribe.

• • •

Turns out, WrestleMania 36 will go on as scheduled, albeit without Tampa providing the stage for the global sports-entertainment spectacle.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the WWE announced in a brief statement Monday evening that its annual signature event will be held as scheduled on April 5, but on a closed set in the company’s training facility in Orlando with only “essential personnel” allowed to attend. The 7 p.m. event will be available via pay-per-view and on the WWE Network.

All ancillary events, set to be held at various venues including Amalie Arena and the Tampa Convention Center in the week leading up to WrestleMania, are off. They included the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony and at least two nationally televised weekly live productions.

Shortly after the announcement, the Tampa Bay local organizing committee issued the following statement:

"Our community has waited 36 years to host WrestleMania, and while we are saddened that this unforeseen situation has led us to today’s announcement, this is totally the right call for the safety and security of everyone involved.

A huge thank-you to all of our local leaders and our friends at the WWE, as we collectively worked through the unprecedented fluidity of the last few weeks. The Team Tampa Bay-WWE partnership has never been stronger."

Later Monday evening, WWE’s Monday Night Raw ― broadcast live each week from a packed domestic arena on USA Network ― aired from the company’s same empty Orlando training facility, with footage from previous pay-per-view shows thrown in.

Monday’s announcement represented a second straight gut punch to the region and Tampa Bay Sports Commission, which also was set to host first- and second-round action of the NCAA men’s Division I basketball tournament (A.K.A. March Madness) starting Thursday at Amalie Arena.

WrestleMania was ranked the world’s sixth most valuable sports brand by Forbes.com in 2017. An economic-impact report commissioned by the WWE indicated the 2019 WrestleMania at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium produced $165.4 million in visitor spending in the New York/New Jersey region last April.

Despite its inevitability amid a global pandemic, the decision to call off this mass gathering at Raymond James Stadium — where a crowd of more than 75,000 was expected — was lethargic compared to the action of other major sports leagues.

Thursday, the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group, which includes Sheriff Chad Chronister and Tampa mayor Jane Castor, chose not to call off WrestleMania but said it would re-visit the issue in a week. Earlier that day, the NCAA had called off its championship basketball tournaments, and the NHL and NBA had suspended their seasons indefinitely.

“I’m hoping that (WWE majority owner and chairman) Vince McMahon and WrestleMania and WWE make the call themselves," Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller told reporters after that meeting.

“But a week from now, if they’ve not done that and we’re still in the situation we’re in, we’ll probably have to pull the plug on that.”

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

EVENT CANCELLATIONS: Get the latest updates on events planned in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.

JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP: See updates and tips posts, and ask questions of our journalists.

FOLLOW OUR COVERAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Reddit.

LISTEN TO THE CORONAVIRUS PODCAST: New episodes every week, including interviews with experts and reporter.

HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips.

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement