Even with the coronavirus outbreak shuttering all of the major professional sports leagues in America, the WWE announced that WrestleMania 36 will go on as planned three weeks from now at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
WWE made an official announcement on Thursday regarding coronavirus and their annual blockbuster event, WrestleMania 36.
“While we remain committed to hosting WrestleMania at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, April 5, we are putting contingency plans in place in the event that it is cancelled by government officials, civil authorities and/or local venues,” the WWE statement said. “The health and safety of our fans, performers, and employees are our top priorities, and we are monitoring the situation closely with our partners and government officials in Tampa Bay.”
Vince McMahon is sticking to the “the show must go on” showbiz mantra, even though March Madness, the NHL, NBA, MLS, NASCAR, and the PGA Tour all suspended events because of the coronavirus outbreak. Since the event is three weeks away, the WWE will wait and see before making a final decision.
Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, declared a shutdown of public events and mass gathering for the next 30 days.
WrestleMania with No Crowd?
There’s a possibility that WrestleMania will go on as scheduled, but without a live audience. An audience is an important and vital aspect of professional wrestling, but public health is paramount during the coronavirus pandemic.
Other workarounds with an empty stadium could include moving WrestleMania 36 to ESPN+ or selling the broadcast rights to a network such as FOX.
WrestleMania is like the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras all rolled into one for the WWE. Their annual event is the biggest single event of the year. The highly popular WrestleMania 36 expects to draw 70,000 spectators and fans to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
“We’ve got the luxury of time on our hands for some of the larger events as well,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. “We don’t have to take immediate action for events that are occurring weeks down the road.”
“We came to the conclusion that, at this point, we don’t want to pull that plug,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller. “However, we wanted to give it at least a week to see what was going to happen, if WWE was going to do anything at all. If they don’t, at that point, I will suggest that we do come together for an emergency meeting to discuss what we do at that particular point in time.”
Former NFL star, Rob Gronkowski, is expected to appear at WrestleMania after recently signing a contract with WWE.
Smackdown Will Continue Sans Crowd
Friday Night Smackdown will proceed this evening, but without a live audience.
Originally slated to go down at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, Friday Night Smackdown had a venue change.
The event will now occur at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, sans audience with only cast and crew in attendance due to concerns over coronavirus. The smaller space is also the WWE training facility.
Friday Night SmackDown Proceeds With No Live Audience
Friday Night SmackDown on March 13 will air live as regularly scheduled and emanate from WWE’s training facility in Orlando, FL, with only essential personnel in attendance. The event was originally scheduled in Detroit, MI. pic.twitter.com/o9mR2SNhAj
— WWE (@WWE) March 12, 2020