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Could WrestleMania return to Tampa in 2021?

After losing pro wrestling’s biggest event because of the pandemic, the city could get it back.
Hundreds of fans watch NXT wrestling matches during the WWE On Sale Party in November outside Amalie Arena in Tampa. The event allowed registered guests a chance to purchase WrestleMania 36 tickets a day before the general public. Due to the pandemic, the WWE event was relocated to the company’s Performance Center in Orlando with a closed set.
Hundreds of fans watch NXT wrestling matches during the WWE On Sale Party in November outside Amalie Arena in Tampa. The event allowed registered guests a chance to purchase WrestleMania 36 tickets a day before the general public. Due to the pandemic, the WWE event was relocated to the company’s Performance Center in Orlando with a closed set. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Oct. 2, 2020
Updated Oct. 2, 2020

TAMPA — After the pandemic forced this year’s WrestleMania to relocate from Tampa, Raymond James Stadium could host professional wrestling’s biggest event in 2021.

WWE is reportedly making plans to move next year’s WrestleMania event, which is currently scheduled for March 28 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, to Tampa, according to several wrestling websites.

Tampa was slated to host WrestleMania 36 in April, but the coronavirus pandemic — and the ensuing ban on public gatherings — made WWE relocate the event to the company’s Performance Center in Orlando with a closed set.

According to Inside the Ropes Wrestling, WWE has reserved several venues in Tampa to host events for next year’s WrestleMania 37 festivities, a weekend that typically includes a Hall of Fame ceremony and a NXT show.

With the state now in Phase 3 reopening and the Bucs opening Raymond James Stadium to fans for the first time this Sunday — while the NFL’s other Florida teams in Jacksonville and Miami also are allowing fans — a move to Tampa would potentially allow the WWE to host an event with fans in attendance, something it hasn’t been able to do since the pandemic shut down the sports and entertainment world in mid-March.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles is still in Tier 1 of reopening, and sporting events are still being held without spectators there.

WWE would not confirm whether a move to Tampa is in the works, saying in a statement, “We have nothing to report and given the current environment, we continue to monitor locations for all of our potential events.”

The relocation of WrestleMania this year and other national sporting events slated to occur in Tampa Bay cost the area around $360 million in economic impact, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis.

Tampa Bay was also set to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, the Valspar Championship golf tournament, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the final days of Grapefruit League spring training games before the pandemic ended them all.

St. Petersburg’s City Council on Thursday approved a resolution to hold the Grand Prix on Oct. 25. Event organizers submitted a proposed attendance figure of 20,000.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.