By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE issued the following press release to announce that Raw, Smackdown, and pay-per-view events will move to Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida beginning with the December 11 edition of Smackdown.
STAMFORD, Conn., – November 19, 2020 – WWE will bring its world-class viewing experience, WWE ThunderDome, to Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay as it begins a new residency starting with SmackDown® on Friday, December 11 at 8 PM ET on FOX.
The move to Tampa Bay marks the next iteration for WWE ThunderDome, which launched to critical acclaim in August as part of WWE’s first-ever residency at Amway Center in Orlando. Featuring a state-of-the-art set, video boards, pyrotechnics, lasers, cutting-edge graphics and drone cameras, WWE ThunderDome provides an immersive viewing atmosphere and virtually brings thousands of fans into the arena via live video, in conjunction with The Famous Group and its proprietary technology, for every Monday Night Raw®, Friday Night SmackDown® and WWE pay-per-view event. WWE ThunderDome recently received top honors at this year’s Sportel Awards for Best Virtual Fan Experience.
“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,” said Matt Silverman, Tampa Bay Rays President. “The ballpark will be transformed to host the spectacle of WWE ThunderDome, allowing fans to enjoy this wildly popular experience virtually.”
“We are proud to have reimagined the in-arena atmosphere and provide an interactive experience like nothing else in sports and entertainment with the launch of WWE ThunderDome,” said Kevin Dunn, WWE Executive Producer & Chief, Global Television Production. “Our fans’ response and industrywide recognition are both humbling and further validation of the innovative spirit and passion that exist across the entire WWE organization.”
“Hollywood celebrities, WWE Legends and millions of fans from around the world have all enjoyed what the world-class WWE ThunderDome has to offer,” said Brian Flinn, WWE Chief Marketing & Communications Officer. “This new residency will enable us to continue offering an unmatched live spectacle and would not have been possible without the strong support from the Tampa Bay Rays organization. We remain grateful for the hospitality provided by the Amway Center over the past four months.”
Fans can register for their virtual seat to be part of upcoming WWE shows via www.WWEThunderDome.com or at WWE’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages.
Raw, SmackDown and pay-per-view programming will be produced at Tropicana Field on closed sets with only essential personnel in attendance. WWE will continue to administer its health and safety protocols for talent, crew and employees in conjunction with each production, including PCR testing for COVID-19, social distancing and wearing masks.
Powell’s POV: WWE’s run at Orlando’s Amway Center will wrap up on December 7. With the NBA and other events scheduled to resume activity, the company needed to find a new home for its programming.