WWE announced Thursday that it is relocating the WWE ThunderDome from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, beginning with the Dec. 11 episode of SmackDown.
Tropicana Field is home to Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays, and Rays President Matt Silverman said the following regarding the new partnership with WWE: "The Tampa Bay Rays are excited to welcome WWE to Tropicana Field for this residency and shine a spotlight on the Tampa Bay area for WWE fans around the world. The ballpark will be transformed to host the spectacle of WWE ThunderDome, allowing fans to enjoy this wildly popular experience virtually."
Every Raw, SmackDown and WWE pay-per-view has emanated from the WWE ThunderDome at the Amway Center since August, but with the NBA's Orlando Magic set to begin their 2020-21 season next month, WWE was forced to find a new location.
When the COVID-19 pandemic originally prevented fans from attending WWE events earlier this year, WWE shows took place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. That included WrestleMania 36 over two nights.
In an effort to step up the excitement and provide a more exhilarating atmosphere, WWE struck a deal with the Magic and moved its shows to the Amway Center three months ago.
WWE created a state-of-the-art environment that it called the WWE ThunderDome. The ThunderDome features lasers and pyrotechnics, as well as massive video walls that allow WWE fans from all over the world to appear on television while watching the shows.
The quick turnaround from the offseason to the start of the 2020-21 NBA season has forced WWE to pivot, but Tropicana Field is a logical location for the second iteration of the WWE ThunderDome.
It is only about a 90-minute drive from Orlando to St. Petersburg, plus the 2021 MLB season isn't set to start until April, so WWE can take up residency at Tropicana Field for a significant amount of time if need be.
It isn't yet known when WWE will be able to resume its normal travel schedule and hold Raw, SmackDown and pay-per-views at different venues across the country with fans in attendance.
Until that happens, the WWE ThunderDome provides the best possible viewer experience, and Tropicana Field should offer plenty of space to keep it running at a high level.
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