WWE announced Thursday that it is exiting its ThunderDome residency at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., and moving to Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay.
The new residency will begin with the episode of “SmackDown” airing Dec. 11 on Fox. Episodes of “Raw,” “SmackDown,” and WWE pay-per-views will now be filmed at Tropicana Field for the foreseeable future.
“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.”
The sports entertainment company’s ThunderDome set up was first established in August after WWE staged shows, including “WrestleMania,” with no fans for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ThunderDome features large LED screens that virtually bring fans into the arena via live video, in conjunction with the Famous Group and its proprietary technology. It also features pyrotechnics, lasers, graphics, and drone cameras. Fans can register to be featured on one of the screens on WWE’s website and social channels.
“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 and chief of 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.”
Per WWE, tapings at ThunderDome are closed sets with only essential personnel in attendance. Health and safety protocols, including COVID-19 testing, social distancing, and wearing masks remain in effect.
“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 and 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.”