WrestleMania 36 switches from Raymond James Stadium to audience-free event in Orlando

World Wrestling Entertainment has announced that WrestleMania 36 will no longer take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The event on April 5 will still go ahead but on the closed set at WWE’s training facility in Orlando in front of essential personnel only. It will still be aired on the WWE Network and pay-per-view globally. All related events in Tampa have been cancelled.

In recent days, WWE has continued to stage its weekly shows audience-free at the WWE training facility while the vast majority of major sporting events in the United States have been either postponed or cancelled due the coronavirus crisis.

The move is another blow for WWE, which is attempting to redress declining subscription numbers to its OTT platform WWE Network, and bounce back from executive turmoil following the abrupt dismissal of co-presidents Michelle Wilson and George Barrios in January.

In February, WWE reported in its latest financial report that WWE Network’s average paid subscribers dropped 10 per cent to 1.42 million, slightly lower than the company’s 1.43 million projection. WWE also said it was evaluating “strategic alternatives” for the WWE Network going forward to help bolster its financial fortunes.

Earlier this month, chocolate brand Snickers announced it would become the exclusive presenting partner of WrestleMania 36 as part of a partnership extension between parent company Mars, Inc. and WWE for 2020.

The XFL, which is also run by WWE chairman Vince McMahon, has also had its season suspended due to the coronavirus.

Elsewhere, US stock car racing series Nascar has suspended its season through May 3 after already postponing two races. In total, seven events have been affected.

“The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority,” Nascar said in a statement.

“We intend to hold all 36 races this season, with future rescheduling soon to be determined as we continue to monitor this situation closely with public health officials and medical experts,” the statement added. “What is important now transcends the world of sports and our focus is on everyone’s safety and well-being as we navigate this challenging time together.”