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TAMPA — To celebrate WrestleMania, the Tampa Bay History Center debuted a new temporary exhibit, Sunshine State Showdown: Pro Wrestling in Tampa Bay, on March 7.
Then coronavirus began to spread and WrestleMania announced it would not be coming to Raymond James Stadium on April 5 after all. And last week, the History Center suspended operations through the end of the month at the earliest.
Professional wrestling’s biggest show of the year will still be held with no audience, over two days — April 5 and 6 — at the WWE’s training center in Orlando.
The show will go on for the History Center, too.
The museum will stream the professional wrestling exhibit via Facebook Live on Friday at noon at facebook.com/tampabayhistorycenter.
Curator Brad Massey will lead the virtual tour.
The exhibit features the history of professional wrestling in Tampa that, from the 1950s through 1980s, when it was home to Championship Wrestling from Florida — one of the nation’s premiere regional promotions before WWE dominated the industry.
The exhibit also educates the public on Tampa’s continuing connection to professional wrestling as hometown to some of its biggest stars, such as John Cena and Hulk Hogan.
“Because we are closed to the public, we are looking for other ways to keep the public engaged,” History Center spokesman Manny Leto said. “Unfortunately, people cannot visit the exhibit so we will bring it to them the best we can.”
The exhibit will feature robes and boots from the late Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson of Tampa, a championship title belt, original posters, programs and tickets from bouts throughout the bay area and more.
The exhibit will remain at the History Center through Oct. 18.
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