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WrestleMania 36 Moved to WWE Performance Center Due to the Coronavirus

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2020

18 Oct 1998:  General view of pirate ship decor at the stadium during the game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Panthers 16-13. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran  /Allsport
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

WWE announced Monday that WrestleMania 36, which was scheduled for April 5 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, will move to the WWE Performance Center because of concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

"In coordination with local partners and government officials, WrestleMania and all related events in Tampa Bay will not take place," the promotion said in a statement. "However, WrestleMania will still stream live on Sunday, April 5 at 7 p.m. ET on WWE Network and be available on pay-per-view. Only essential personnel will be on the closed set at WWE's training facility in Orlando, Florida to produce WrestleMania."

The decision comes after several major professional sports—including the NBA, NHL and MLS—suspended operations to protect against the further spread of COVID-19.

Per CNN, there are 164,837 known cases of coronavirus worldwide, and 6,470 people have died as a result of the virus.

On March 12, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis advised all cities and counties in the state of Florida to postpone mass gatherings for at least 30 days.

This marks the first time in WWE history that WrestleMania will effectively take place behind closed doors, and it's the second time the marquee show has changed venues. WrestleMania 7 in Los Angeles went from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

WWE already had several major matches in place for WrestleMania 36, including Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship, Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship, Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler for the Raw Women's Championship, Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair for the NXT Women's Championship and John Cena vs. "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt.

At this time, it is unclear what the change means for WWE's current storylines and the matches that were scheduled to take place at WrestleMania. A smaller venue without any fans could mean a smaller card than fans have come to expect with the program.

While most major sports leagues are able to suspend operations and then pick up where they left off, WWE is a nonstop entity with no offseason, and pausing the storylines or not paying them off at WrestleMania are less-than-ideal options.

WrestleMania is among the biggest annual sports entertainment events in the world in the same vein as the NFL's Super Bowl, and a shift to the Performance Center is undoubtedly a major blow to WWE, the city of Tampa and wrestling fans across the world.

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