WrestleMania Still On (For Now) Following Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group Meeting

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WrestleMania Tampa
Credit: WWE

Despite the rest of the sporting world seemingly crumbling around them as a result of the threat of the coronavirus, it looks like for the time being, it’s going to be business as usual for WWE, which has yet to announce cancellation or postponement of any upcoming events including WrestleMania 36.

“Right Now, We Don’t Want to Pull the Plug on WrestleMania”

On Thursday, March 12th, the same day that saw the MLS and NHL join the NBA in suspending their seasons for a period of time, MLB opt to cancel all remaining spring training games and postpone the start of theirs at least two weeks, and the NCAA make the tough call to cancel March Madness, officials in Tampa Bay held two separate meetings where WrestleMania 36 was one of the major topics addressed. Mayor Jane Castor, who earlier in the day, “we don’t have to take immediate action for events weeks down the road,” met with Vince McMahon and other officials regarding the status of WWE’s marquee event. Simultaneously, the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group met and addressed their concerns on continuing to hold large scale events in light of what had happened with the major sports leagues and college basketball over the past 24 hours.

While Hillsborough/Tampa Bay did not outright issue a large event ban much as Seattle and San Francisco had over the past week, it was noted at the meeting that events scheduled for this weekend including the St. Patrick’s Day parade were being canceled and that the upcoming St. Pete’s Firestone Grand Prix would be closed off to fans. Then came the question of WrestleMania, which is one that no one seems to want to have to make even if postponement seems inevitable given the current climate. Seemingly echoing the mayor’s sentiment, officials at the policy meeting said there were no plans to cancel WrestleMania, or the rest of WWE’s events (WrestleMania Axxess, NXT TakeOver: Tampa Bay, the Hall of Fame, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown) at this time, though the situation would be re-evaluated in a week. Commissioner Les Miller noted that in giving things a week, the group was going see if WWE was “going to do anything at all” and that if the company didn’t make a decision, the group would suggest convening another meeting.

Earlier on Thursday morning, Florida governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference where he urged city officials in the state of Florida to cancel mass gatherings. However, as was noted at the policy meeting, this was not an order and that at this stage, the decision on whether or not WrestleMania would continue, was still going to be made at the local level.

The global impact of the coronavirus and steps being taken to stop its spread are unprecedented. When the outbreak of COVID-19, known most commonly as the coronavirus, reached the United States, CDC officials warned that Americans could face “significant disruptions” in their daily life. Now, as the calendar heads to mid-March and the World Health Organization has officially declared this a global pandemic, we’ve already begun to see the result of these disruptions as it relates to education and entertainment specifically. Across the country, colleges and universities are moving their classes fully online, and in an effort to stop the community spread of the coronavirus, city and state government officials are shutting down large public gatherings including parades, festivals, and concerts.

It remains to be seen what WWE will do regarding WrestleMania. At this point, it seems unlikely they will cancel the ‘Show of Shows.’ However, with the MLB, MLS, NHL, NBA, ATP, NASCAR and PGA all making some efforts to postpone, cancel or hold events without fans, there is no doubt there will be immense pressure on WWE and the McMahon Alpha Entertainment owned-XFL, to do what many would consider to be the right thing at this point. On Thursday, WWE made a step in the right direction by moving SmackDown from Detroit to the Performance Center. That said, WrestleMania is a whole different beast.

As we continue to get updates on how the coronavirus will affect WWE and other wrestling companies both for WrestleMania Week and beyond, stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.

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